so right now, it's about 6:30 and i have about 6 hours until my train leaves for st. petersburg. i'll be there until the end of the week and then i'll return back to moscow. but anyway, it's been a while since i last updated, so let's see...
it's been a lot colder lately, snow weather, you would think, unfortunately luzhkov seems bent on preventing it if at all possible, so who knows whether it'll actually fall or not. but it's definitely been close to freezing this whole past week, and the gloves and scarf and starting to feel like they're not enough haha. cloudy days are pretty much expected, i've only seen the sun maybe once or twice in the past 7 days.
last week we were pretty busy, we had an excursion to tolstoy's childhood home in the middle of moscow, and it was remarkably well preserved and definitely a lot nicer than what i would have expected. i didn't really know a lot about him and his family, but our tour guide spoke english extremely well and it turns out his whole family was very talented. so we got our tour and saw a lot of the antique furniture that was preserved. it was a nice change of pace to see something historical for a change since we had been seeing a lot of live performances lately.
that night, tuesday, me and a couple of my friends had heard about a restaurant at a metro stop close to us that offered unlimited house beer for a set (cheap) price on tuesday nights. we decided to check it out and the area turned out to be extremely sketchy. classic russia, the restaurant was right in front of 2 nuclear power plant cooling towers. we did find it though, and we had a pretty good time. the food was good as well.
the next day, we had our first test in our lecture class. needless to say, i don't think i aced it, but i certainly knew enough just from prior exposure to russian history that it didn't really matter that aleksandr's lectures are terrible. but yeah, all i need is a C, so i'm not really worried about it at all.
on thursday, i went out to a cafe to do some homework and get a small dinner with 2 of the other girls, and our waitress was really nice, and we found out she spoke english, russian, french, italian, german, and spanish. she was only 18, but she saw us doing our russian homework and basically ended up doing it for us haha. so that was a lot of fun and i would love to go back and see her again.
friday, kathryn and i went on an excursion with the kids from the school we had visited previously that i had spoken about. they were happy to see us, but the visit was bizarre again as i had expected, haha. we were originally going to take an [old, soviet, scary] bus, but since our group wasn't big enough, we packed into a marshrutka type van and off we went. we were going to the kuzminki estate, which is basically an old estate house with large, expansive grounds and an apparently long history. it was pretty close to the school so it only took a little while to get there. when we got there, we had a tour inside before we went to visit the horse stables. kathryn and i mainly ended up talking to nina and leviza, two girls who we hadn't met before at the school the first time. neither of them spoke english very well, so it was a great chance to practice our russian. they were both really nice and eager to talk to us. neither of them were ethnically russian, nina was from georgia, and leviza was from uzbekistan, but they both spoke russian as well. we ended up exchanging emails and phone numbers so hopefully we can keep in touch. the horse stables were pretty cool, the horses were beautiful and obviously well cared for. i'm not much of an animal person myself so i kept a distance but the girls all loved them. after that, we headed off and i went back home for the night.
on saturday, we FINALLY had our excursion to lenin's tomb and the kremlin wall necropolis, which was easily one of the excursion i was most looking forward to. we waited in line for a while on red square before we finally got to go in. basically, you go through the intense metal detector entrance, and then follow the paths through the garden towards lenin's tomb. the paths are lined with the gravestones of famous russians, most of whom i didn't know. halfway through, you reach the tomb, enter, and walk down a couple flights of stairs. it's pretty dark inside, entirely made of marble, and just creepy in general. there are militsiya lining the stairs all the way down, so that just adds to the creepiness. when you reach the bottom, you turn the corner into the room with lenin's body. his body is set up in an extremely ornate casket with a glass viewing box on top. guards are all around and you have about 30 second to walk around 3 sides of the casket before exiting. let's just say that those 30 seconds aren't enough for anyone to ever decide whether it's really all of his body there or not. it doesn't even sink in what you've actually just seen until later, though. after exiting, you continue past the really elaborate headstones of some of the soviet premiers and other important figures: brezhnev, kalinin, andropov, and of course stalin. after that, you follow the path out which is lined with carnations, yuri gagarin's grave is also located there. and that's it, all in about 10 minutes of walking. but the tomb is free so anyone can go back and see it again whenever. but i'm satisfied with one visit, i think haha.
on sunday, i spent the whole day out. i went to another CSKA soccer match, which was basically a massive loss for them against FK moskva, so that wasn't too exciting. afterwards i headed to the mall with a couple other people because we all needed some clothes for st. petersburg. it took me forever but i finally found a pair of [expensive] jeans that i liked so i got those. then we headed out to мир пиццы for some drinks and snacks. i was exhausted by the end of the day, so i just headed home and went to bed.
so that leaves me at...today. i didn't really do much, i packed earlier this afternoon, and i went to the store down the street to get some snacks for the train. i'll leave svetlana's around 10:30 or so and make my way to the metro. we're meeting at midnight. we're due to arrive in petersburg tomorrow early, and then we have a bus tour around the city, and then the rest of the day is free time. i'm kind of disappointed we don't have a very long time there, but i'm going to try and make the most of it and see and do what i want to do as opposed to what the group wants. i just like to explore by myself and i feel like i get more satisfaction out of that and get more done when i'm by myself. but either way i'm definitely pumped for the trip and can't wait to see everything! i think that's it for now, but i will make a huge effort to update this when i return (on halloween) so all of the petersburg stuff is fresh in my mind. hope everyone is still doing well and that everyone's halloween festivities are fun!