St. Petersburg, Russia
I feel I’ve entered a new dimension of time and space. My new friends Anton and Katya have taken me under their wings. I’m having fun trying to speak Russian with Anton and he too is trying to speak English, something I think he prefers to do though only with enough vodka. Katya speaks good English and I think she appreciates the practice. I arrived on Wednesday night (13/6) at the Finnish Train station and Anton and Katya were there to greet me. We immediately walked past Lenin Square to catch the AquaBus along the River Neva to Vasilevskiy Island, where Anron and Katya share a communal floor on the third floor of an old building that apparently Lenin’s wife used to rent a room in! Anton and Katya live in one large room and share the kitchen, toilet and bathroom with seven other tenants. It is just like the place in Russian Dolls, you know – the sequel to Spanish Apartment. Once on the Island, on the way to their apartment walking we met a friend of theirs, Anna. A fellow red head and apparently no English. And then walking down the boulevarde we came upon another friend of theirs who was busking. They asked him to sing me a welcome to Russia song. And so it was that I was standing in the street with my fully laden packs, big one on back and small one on chest, listening to a full husky throated Russian lament, apparently all about Lake Baikal. Very apt I thought. After this wonderful gift we stopped off to eat Russian fried meat pastry thing-os, washed down with a couple of local Vasilevskiy brews, both unfiltered, one dark and one pale. After dinner they brought me to their flat. I showered and we talked. And at 12:45 with the sun just over the horizon we walked back to the Neva to witness the spectacle of the Dvortsovvy and Blagoveshchenskiy Bridges opening for the nightly river barge traffic (opening them during daytime traffic would be mayhem in downtown St Petersburg). By the time we got home and talked some more it was 4am! And so it is that my days in St Petersburg start late morning (after the necessary sleep in) and end in the wee hours. This is what they call the St Petersburg White Nights. And I’m slowly adjusting to the time shift.