Thursday, September 16, 2010
Per usual, I fail to update my blog in any sort of timely manner, so now I have a whole week of stuff to fill you in on. First of all, I AM RABIES FREE! OFFICIALLY! Last Tuesday was my last shot, and I am finally free from weekly visits to the health clinic. Unfortunately no one at the clinic seemed to join me in my enthusiasm, the nurse refused to let me give her a celebratory hug after she jabbed me with the needle, and the doctor as usual asked why I had asked for a doctor's consultation (in my defense I NEVER asked for a consultation with a doctor after the first shot, and this time they told me it was against policy clinic not to have a doctor's consultation, fail?). They did know who I was when I called this time though, which was rather heartening, maybe that was their way of congratulating me...
Wednesday was our first excursion day, like over the summer we did a tour of the canals and waterways of St. Petersburg. The tour was meant to introduce the new American students to their Russian tutors. The excursion differed from in the summer however in that approximately none of the Russian tutors showed up. No matter though, I knew Lyuda wasn't coming so I had a lovely time sitting outside (it was a beautiful day) sitting outside, chatting, and taking pictures.
The rest of the week was pretty quiet, two other students were moved into Pasha's and my group, Sean, a graduate student with beautiful Russian, and Kristina, who speaks Russian at home. I feel like I've been put in the ring with heavy weights. It's for the best though, I'm being pushed to my speaking limits everyday, which I'm sure will do wonders for my Russian.
Friday night was interesting, it is prohibitively for me to take a taxi home after the metros close, so every night I go out I have to choose between going home at midnight, or staying out until 6 when the metros open. I chose to stay out. The night started out fun, we went to a club called mode on the roof of a building near 'sposno krovi' or the Church on Spilled Blood, a beautiful St. Petersburg monument. I met a lot of the people in the Flagship program and was having a great time. The night kind of went downhill from there. Starting around 2:00 AM we started losing people, and me and a few other people were led away by a Russia guy who probably hadn't showered in a few weeks who I none so kindly dubbed 'The Goatee of Lies'. Goatee of Lies said he knew some great clubs in another part of the city. after leaving three bars/clubs, all of which I found quite enjoyable, Goatee of Lies led us to approximately the middle of nowhere, home to his infamous clubs. The clubs were as followed, two closed clubs (apparently closed for quite some time), and pretty sketchy looking club that thankfully wouldn't let us in, and a reggae club with approximately seven people in it. Anyway, after half an hour of watching four geeky men dance to a remarkably horrible DJ, I and the two other survivors of the evening decided to hit the road. We journeyed back to the bars we had found earlier and spent the rest of the night/morning there. However, I lost my friends after about four, so I spent the two hours between four and six AM by myself. Long story short, by the time I found an open metro station by seven I was rather thirsty and thoroughly miserable. I consoled myself over a bowl of borscht at about 7:30, and was in bed at 8.
The week thus far has been better. After having given a presentation about our excursion Monday, we went to the palace of Gatchina on Wednesday. Gatchina is an odd place, a castle that looks more like a fortress than anything. The palace belonged to any number of people throughout history, Peter's sister, a knightly order with an impossible name, the infamous Count Orlov, the Tsars' personal physicians, and finally Paul I. The palace was subjected to extensive renovations by all who possessed it. In the end, it is a rather ungainly looking leviathan of gray stone, half fortress, half french castle, complete with extensive English gardens, a grotto that answers questions, and Paul I's personal 'Island of Love'. The palace was occupied by the Germans during WWII, and per usual, the Nazis did a stellar job with the upkeep. By the time the city was liberated in 1994, the palace was almost entirely obliterated by Luftwaffe bombs and Wehrmacht tanks, and the gardens were almost entirely chopped down, burned, or otherwise destroyed. Restoration of the palace continues to this day, with many rooms still bombed out and bare. It is really quite sobering to see the bare walls and shell holes that still dominate many of the rooms.
That about does it for me. Lyuda comes back from Sochi tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to see her soon. I'm still trying to make friends, so it looks like I will be going out at least one night this weekend, and next weekend I might go see a soccer game, very exciting! Hope all is well back home!