We shall start with a word of warning:
BE AWARE OF RUSSIANS BEHIND THE WHEEL!
1) In Russia, a pedestrian man green light means, 'walk over the road'. It also means, 'cars don't have to stop either and can intersect the 'pedestrian' path ahead of you.' Thus, every time one crosses the road here, you are battling with not only the task of threading your way through the blockade of pedestrians coming towards you, but also with not falling over the tram lines filled with water- and of course the idiotic cars that insistently drive through the ever contracting gap between you and the oncoming people from the other side of the road! It really is quite a palava and daily challenge.
NB: Tankers also live by these rules, and even being a sole pedestrian crossing the road won't stop them in their tracks !
2) The parking it hysterically outrageous, and again, this is a common occurrence, nay, normality for drivers in Russia:
As for food. Things have improved. I would like to say immeasurably but that would be simply lying. We found a kooky little cafe just off the main strip (Nevsky Prospect/Avenue) called Zoom, which had the most wonderfully designed menus, and came in a small paper back book format with children's illustrations (although inevitably one by an adult..)
Finally finding fresh salads and wonderfully organic products put a smile on our faces.
However, I promised you that only 99% of this would be about food, so here is the 1% promised too.
Saint Petersburg, as we know is a cultural powerhouse. There are copious amounts of ballets, operas, statues, churches, buildings, museums and cinemas to visit. The latter example of which I have listed here, Charlotte and I decided to experience for our self!
So we arrived at 'дом кино' (the cinema house) a good 40 mins early, and bought tickets to a children's cartoon called ' Волшебный Лес ' (Magical Forest). After a long gossip and admiring the surrounding architecture, that boasted tall ceilings and a manor-house hall way, with a cafe attached that was decked in red-leather sofas and ruined by a bleak white and soil red contract, that didn't have one solitary picture or decoration (although the creme brulee ice cream distracted us from that.) We then realised that the 40 minutes had breezily passed us by and we decided to look at our tickets. The tickets in our hand we then discovered did not have ' Волшебный Лес ' printed anywhere on them at all... It seemed the woman at the desk had in fact given us the wrong tickets! Or maybe the right ones considering our Russian pronunciation isn't exactly native. So off we hopped to try and rectify this problem and get in for the 3.30pm showing of the children's cartoon we were prepared to wait 40mins for, rather then the 4.45pm showing of an adult thriller that we were not.
On entering the children's cartoon in cinema room number 4, we joined the other 2 people also there to watch the film; a father and his 3yr old son. We then rapidly realised that the Russian film we had come to see was in fact french. Apparently when a film is imported, the original laguage is not dubbed out, but is audiable at the same volume as the language that has been dubbed ONTOP of it. This, French/Russian chaotic combination made the film utterly inaudible. It was also utterly un-watchable and depressing due to the fact that the entire film was about a young boy segregated from society, who lived in a forest with his father that didn't love him and living in the wake of his mother's tragic death. A jolly Thursday afternoon one must say.
Needless to say there were tears of confusion, exhaustion, sadness and more confusion from both Charlotte and I throughout. Well, apart from when we both accidentally had an extended nap half way through in the warm, dark room...
Here is a photo of the cinema house its self :
I did however manage to find a beautiful park just over the road from my flat that I had not known existed. I went for a stroll with some fellow language students at the school, and came across a rather romantic bridge:
In other news, it's not only walking around and running across roads that I'm doing a lot of- I have also started STRETCHING classes!
Zulaika and I decided to get our bodies into shape and fight off the biscuit bottoms we are slowly acquiring... So we headed off to the local dance studio. Originally, we wanted to Start salsa classes and morph into sexy Latino goddesses once a week starting now and especially during the winter months (when it will hit -20) to fend off the depression and keep our spirits up However Russians decided that Saturdays at 1.00pm was a good time to do that. Which it is not. So, the only other convenient activity apart from gogo/modern and pole dancing of course- was in fact 'stretching.' NOW- if you are thinking to yourself , 'ahh cheaters, what a doss exercise that be pointless,' think again.
IT WAS AGONY ...
One hour of physical pain. We could hardly touch our feet, and at best we tried to do 'the crab', which only lasted for about 3 seconds...
The other women we were about 25, very healthy and fit looking and also rather leggy in their sassy Russian sports gear and tiny sports bras. Our teacher, who shall now be know as Mrs Plasticine, casually, (step by step until we all dropped out) did the side ways splits and then proceeded to bend forward and lie facing downwards with her chest on the floor, arms crossed and seemingly ready for a nap... Just like this:
The Russian conversation was minimal, however she then decided to ask us what our 'aim' was by attending these classes, and whether we were dancers. Well do we look like dancers to you?
Zulaika then asked why the rest of the girls there were so keen on stretching. Well, it seems we were actually in a class that is extremely helpful for those wanting to improve their nimbleness, flexibility and athletic ability on and around a metal pole....
Till next time!