Thursday, July 26, 2012

st. petersburg, russia.

Greg and I have been home from our trip to Russia for a few weeks now, so I thought I better get my act together and finally post some of our pictures. This trip was quite the experience, one that I am so fortunate to have had, but I definitely won't be packing my bags and moving to Russia anytime soon. In so many ways, it was much cleaner, nicer, and more beautiful than I expected. In others, it was a huge culture shock (the language barrier was brutal, most people weren't terribly warm and I was yelled at/scolded by locals on more than one occasion. Russia didn't like me much, but I'll get over it ;) 

I was pretty intimidated about making the 24 hour trek across the world all by myself and completely heartsick over leaving Evie for the very first time. I cried and cried and cried when I put her to sleep the night before I left and I cried in the airport waiting to board my flight to New York as well as a few times during the next day of travel. I blame my pregnancy, no sleep and a few run-ins with not-so-nice people  (getting lost in the New York City airport and an almost 6 hour layover in the Amsterdam airport probably didn't help things much, either), but when I finally stepped off my flight in St. Petersburg, made my way through customs, found my luggage and saw that cute guy of mine waiting for me in the crowd, I was so relieved to finally see a friendly face I about died. And I told him I am NEVER doing that again. Never, ever, thanks.

This was a school trip for Greg, so most of his days were dedicated to his MBA classes, and I wasn't quite sure if I would end up having anyone to tour with during the day, but I won the lottery and met another wife, Ali, who made my trip so much more fun. We made plans to meet in the lobby the morning after I arrived and it took about 5 minutes before we were laughing and talking like we'd known each other all our lives. 

Most of my days were spent touring around with Ali while Greg went to class and then we would meet up with our husbands for dinner and more exploring. It doesn't get dark this time of year in Russia until around 12:30am, so it was easy to stay out really late and super hard to fall asleep at night. Besides the quick afternoon nap I'd usually sneak in before dinner we hardly stopped or slept at all (so much for all the sleeping-in I was dreaming of doing! I was up every morning at 4 or 5am and wide awake. Thanks, jet lag!)

St. Petersburg was so much prettier than I expected it to be, with gorgeous canals and bridges running through the city and historic architecture. Here's a glimpse of what we saw...

Greg at Peterhof Palace before I arrived. This place was so amazing!
The first day Ali & I went to the Hermitage Museum. The place was HUGE and I am fairly certain we didn't see everything we were supposed to, but when every manual and sign is in Russian you kind of have to wing it.

Posing by the water after touring the museum on the first day.
There was an authentic Russian restaurant right across the street where Greg took me after he picked me up at the airport and where we went again with friends. The highlight of this place is the Russian waitresses who dance every hour. Really cute girls, pretty dancing and lots of drooling men. Good times! I ordered beef stroganoff every time we ate here.
And another dish at the restaurant- Russian crepes, which are totally Norwegian pancakes like it aint no thing! G was in heaven. I chose to order other things since I already have to get to eat these on a weekly basis at home.
I snapped this pic walking back to the hotel and you should know it was about 10:30pm at the time.
Pretty canals all throughout the city
The next day, Greg only had class until 10, so we headed to the Church of Christ on spilled blood and then to the market to buy souvenirs. I still don't know a thing about this church, but isn't it amazing?
That night, we had a really fun dinner with a big group of students and Greg tried a Russian delicacy- borscht. I am shocked to tell you this weird looking soup is actually completely delicious.
You eat it with nibbles of raw garlic!
And my meatballs and potatoes. I should have ordered the stroganoff! (for the 3rd night in a row).
The gang at dinner. Nerdy grad students + Ali & I ;)
I found this bill amusing. Dinner wasn't cheap! ;)
The exchange rate was so confusing to me - I don't think I ever figured it out. Dividing by 30 in your head just doesn't come easily to all of us!
The husbands insisted upon pictures in front of this building & Ali and I laughed because none of us even knew what the building was. I still can't tell you. But here we are posing with it on the walk back to the hotel.
Ali & Brandon
And this is our hotel lobby. A burger from the room service menu at this hotel cost almost $40.
The next day, we took a boat ride out to Peterhof Palace with some of the other girls. This place was gorgeous and touring the inside was so much fun (we weren't allowed to take pictures of the rooms, but I'm betting you can google!). The only bad part of the day was almost getting trampled to death by the pushy Russian women standing behind us and people butting us in line 4,000 times.

A terribly unflattering photo of my pregnant self, but Ali looks cute. Here's a fun tidbit: I had NO IDEA I was expecting twins on this trip (although I was seriously starting to wonder how big the baby I was carrying was going to be when I finally delivered it) and assumed there was just one baby in there. That's why I look so happy and carefree. Just kidding. Sort of.
On the last day, the program hosted a "partner's weekend". Ali & I went on a bus tour and boat tour and then met up with the husbands and the rest of the program for a fancy dinner on the water. Despite the fact that the dinner was on a boat, I was sea-sick and we were sweating our lives away with no a/c (it was all really funny and we spent most of the night laughing, you should know), it was great way to end the week in St. Petersburg.
 Ali has a great fashion blog, check it out here.
Cobblestone roads. Cute. Painful.

Next up, Greg and I took a 5am train-ride through the countryside (I think it was countryside, I slept the whole way) to Moscow. More on that, later!

1 comment:

  1. So pretty! I'm glad you had fun. Once in a lifetime experience!

    Dan did tell me that borshe and this meat thing that you spread on your bread is something he still misses. Weird.


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