Wednesday, September 30, 2009

honey, devils, and some soviet propaganda

hey all. hope everyone is doing well. i always feel like it's been forever since my last post.
last week, like i had said, i didn't really do much until saturday. on friday night i went out
with kerri, erin, joey, kate, and jenny to try and find patriarch's pond. i'd never been to
this part of the city and it was actually in a really nice area. it was still really close to
the center of downtown but it didn't feel like that at all. it kind of reminded me of when i
was in prague because the streets were really small and the buildings were old but still
preserved beautifully. i got the impression it was a fairly affluent area judging from the
amount of mercedes parked on the streets. but anyway, we found patriarch's pond (the pond
from bulgakov's master and margarita novel) and it was nice. it wasn't a touristy area at all
and there were some cool statues and monuments around the pond. unfortunately the weather was pretty cold and cloudy but that's pretty much the norm now though. so afterwards we were going to try and get some dinner at the margarita cafe but you had to have a reservation, so we had to look somewhere else. there were a few restaurants and we ended up going to this bar with a fat man on the sign haha. i got a really good pasta dish and garlic bread and also a french
beer which was surprisingly good. afterwards we went across the street to another cafe for
dessert and i had the best dessert i've eaten in a long time. it was this apple pastry thing
and it was amazing. i will definitely go back there haha. after that we just headed home.

on saturday we had our group excursion to tsaritsyno estate and the honey fair. now, since i
am a homestay person, i usually just make my way to the metro stop where we are meeting by
myself since it's easier than meeting everyone somewhere. so we were supposed to meet at the stop by 12. i woke up around 10 and showered, changed etc. i am not used to eating breakfast at home so i just have a bad habit of not factoring in the 30 min. breakfast eating time that i need
to here. i also severely underestimated how long it would take me to get to this stop since i had
never actually been on this specific metro line before. so it took me forever basically, and
i ended up being 20 minutes late, so i felt kind of bad about that.

but the estate itself was beautiful, it was on a huge plot of land and there were a ton of
buildings, ponds, and bridges. there was also a huge singing fountain that played tchaikovsky
and a couple other songs. the story goes that there was a contest to choose an architect to
build this woman's estate, and after the first architect was chosen, she hated the design and
had it mostly destroyed. it was rebuilt and restored and so now there are the new buildings
and some of the old ruins from the old estate.

we walked around for a while and took photos and then we eventually headed across the street to where the honey fair was going on. the honey fair was crazy. it was hundreds of little stands selling homemade honey. all of the honey sellers were so aggressive about you trying and buying
their honey. i figured all of the honey was good so i eventually just bought a couple containers
of one that i liked. there were so many kinds though, i never knew that honey was so umm..
complicated? but it was fun and we had a good time. we lost a few people because the maze of
honey stands was impossible to escape from. after we were done we took the metro downtown and kind of were indecisive for a while until we ended up just going to get lunch.

saturday night, people had been talking about going out to a club, and so once the dust settled,
me, amanda, kelly, and sam ended up going out. we looked up directions for propaganda, which
is supposed to be a popular club downtown with no cover charge or face control (bleh). so we
took the metro to our stop and started looking. it's amazing how simple google maps makes directions and streets look, and then you get there, and the streets look nothing like how they did on the computer. we wandered and eventually stopped two extremely well dressed guys. they actually spoke some english so they told us where to go, and they also recommended another club called fabrique, because according to them, propaganda is "old". we decided to go to propaganda first anyway, though. we got there fine and the place was pretty small. it was really dark and they really only played techno house music ALL night. literally the beat never changed. this was a lot different from the clubs i had been to in prague where they actually played legit songs. so i was kind of disappointed, but the drinks were really cheap and it was still fun, so we stayed for a while.

after about an hour or so we decided we decided to try fabrique since the guys had recommended it. we left and got a taxi there. the driver was really nice and we attempted conversation, haha. anyway, we got there and it was pretty obvious that fabrique was a lot nicer since A) there were a lot more people hanging out outside and B) there was a hefty cover (like 500 roubles). we got in and checked our coats (note this for later haha) and looked for seats somewhere. fabrique was a LOT bigger than propaganda, probably 5 times at least. i liked the atmosphere better and they kind of played real songs (aka techno mixes of radio edits). so we hung out for a while and it was starting to get late. the metro didn't open until around 5 so we had to stay until at least 4:30 or so. we danced a few times and amanda actually got up on stage with one of the dancers haha. after a while she started to feel sick so a bouncer took her to a bathroom and we kind of sat around, danced, waited etc. when it was time to go, we all went up to get our coats and amanda couldn't find her ticket. unfortunately the charge for a lost ticket was 500 roubles, roughly 15 dollars, which the four of us combined didn't have. eventually one of the club employees offered to walk amanda to the nearest atm (which in moscow is not near at all) to get money. i walked with her and it took about at least 30 minutes to get there and back. we were both extremely tired and when we finally got back to the club and met sam and kelly, we realized the money amanda had just withdrawn was missing. so yeah, needless to say it was kind of a disaster. apparently, while we were gone, the club's manager, aleksei, talked with sam and kelly, and he offered to go get her coat for her. no questions asked, he just walked in and grabbed it. THEN he offered to take us to breakfast, in his escalade haha. so we went with and we went to a pretty upscale restaurant with him and one of his um..lady friends. at this point i was ready to pass out and we literally sat and ate and drank tea for 3 hours at least. quite possibly the most bizarre night of my life, he told us about how he cheats on his wife but it's ok if you don't get caught haha. he was hilarious. when we FINALLY left, he drove us to the metro, i went home, slept, did my homework and that was basically my sunday.

so the weekend really killed me, and lucky me, we had an excursion on monday to what i would describe as a ballroom/russian folk/satanic dance concert. it was basically three parts. the first was an amazing exhibition of different types of ballroom dance from all over the world. puts dancing with the stars to shame. the second was traditional russian folk dancing in the infamous ridiculously brightly colored costumes. and then finally, apparently based on a folk story set in ukraine, there was a probably 20-30 minute long dance with witches, demons, the devil etc. the choreography was amazing and it just blew my mind. it was probably my favorite excursion so far.

today, tuesday, i had signed up to visit and russian high school to speak with kids about life in
america, in general, things like that. they didn't really give us much information but
i wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. ele, amanda, kathryn, kate, anya, and me went
with lena and andrei, a director from the school, took two freaking marshrutkas to get there.
we got to the school and, this is so ridiculous, as we walked through the front doors, we could see
a fairly sizeable group of kids waiting anxiously inside, holding up cameras, taking a million
pictures, and surrounded by balloons. they were SO excited to see us. i couldn't even believe it.
one of the kids spoke english fairly well and so he gave us the grand tour of the school. and for
russia, it was pretty decent. after we had our tour, they led us to a classroom with a long table
set out, and they sat us every other chair so we could have russian students between everyone. they started bringing out pastries, tea, chocolates, and blini. i was in awe the entire time because
i hadn't expected anything like this at all. i mean, from what i can remember, whenever guest speakers came to my high school it practically took threats from the teacher to get us to do more than stand up and say hi.

so after andrei gave a little introduction, we started to eat and it was basically just an open
forum to talk with whoever we wanted. a good majority of the russian students spoke english fairly well, and i think all of them understood it at leat a little. some were definitely better than others though. i sat next to a kid named yura and i didn't think he spoke english at first since he only asked me questions in russian, but he did speak english eventually, and well enough for me to understand. i talked with him in russian for a fairly good amount of time though about volleyball (he asked, no idea why this is so popular in russia) and other things. his friend joined us halfway through and they wanted me to explain to them how baseball works. it took a good mix of my english and russian to get them to the point where i *think* they understood. afterwards, andrei helped the kids set up a game where we had to match important russian events with the years in which they occurred. we did that, chatted a little more, and then left. before we left, andrei asked us if we'd be interested in coming back and working on some sort of group project with the students (such blatant desperation for english practice haha, but it's fun so w/e) and we told him we would. but the students were beyond friendly and really enthusiastic which is always a plus, so we'll probably be back soon.

so yeah i guess i didn't realize how busy i have been since the end of last week, and i still managed to catch up with survivor somewhere in there, of course. nothing is really planned now until sunday, we're going to a soccer match at luzhniki stadium, which is the huge golden domed stadium on the moskva river. i'm super excited for this because i love to watch soccer. i'll be glued to the field the entire time. also, there's a possibility of aleksei inviting kelly, me, etc to a barbecue at his dacha or something haha, but we're not really sure what's going on with that. so we'll see. our petersburg trip was moved (boo) back a week so that's not til the week before and leading up to halloween. will keep everyone updated. hoping everyone is well!


1 comment:

  1. Sorry this comment is so late! I've been so busy with school. I will catch up on the rest of the blog when I have time. Right now I seriously have to read like 500 pages of war and peace and cram for a Russian test. Seriously. Sounds like things are good. The school sounded AWESOME. you are tots a celeb lol. How do people not understand baseball but understand volleyball. Only in Russia!

    Miss ya!