woensdag 25 augustus 2010

the essence of pleasure is spontaneity

It is never easy to take the risk when you are not sure whats gonna happen.My decision to come to St. Petersburg was not to lie rather arbitrary than
carefully thought out. A necessity to have a break from London and a prospect of spending the rest of holidays at home were both an incentive to get out. Since I have been learning Russian in a course for a while Ive made my mind and decided to choose Russian in Rusland course.  To be honest those two weeks did more than only coming up to my expectations. 
In terms of my present Russian language skills I feel more confident than ever before. Even though there is still a huge amount of hard work before me I could not be even dreaming about the better language foundations than I recieved at the course.And what is most important I really strated to appreciate the beauty of Russian language,culture,tradition which made me even more curious for the future to explore those fields of life.
In terms of the people I met as I mentioned many times before I could not dream of having better mates than those I met in St. Petersburg. I believe that the multinationalitz in this case has done its good, all the different backgrounds, cultures, ways of thinking!!!! Despite the varieties we managed to get on well with each other perfectly, what I hope will result in the longlasting friendship for the future.
Finally in terms of St. Petersburg the city really exceeded my expectations. Those who managed to follow my previous posts know what I am talking about. It is simply one of these place you have to visit before you die.
During the last few weeks I got a very good life lesson-summing up its better to take the chances instead of waiting for the anwers.
Stephan copyrights

zaterdag 21 augustus 2010

Political (in)correctness

The obedience of political correctness was never one of my virtues. Even though I spent the last years in the UK where the Queen is saint and racism does not officialy exist ( besides the fact that everyone hate Poles and immigrants in general),  I've been always itching to speak. That is why I would like to share a few remarks that took me as a suprise in St Petersburg.  The old Russian rule states: " say whatever you want as long as the Kremlin approves". However, since I am not an official political enemy I will not follow suit and here we go....

"A classless society"

All in all  in Russia the middle class is either invisible or it simply does not exist. The ruling class driving its newly polished western cars mixes with the working class still living the life in a style of Soviet conditions. Even though St. Petersburg is claimed to be the city where the differences are not that overwhelming you can still spot a huge amount of homeless, who could drink barely anyone under the table and beggers whose pensions do not cover any basic expenses. Still from the other point of view the huge amount of students growing up into intellectuals is very very positive!!!!!

Why not to buy Putin as a souvenir
What stroke me the most was the amount of pictures, gifts, postcards, posters even matryoskas with the prime minister Putin or a president Miedwiediew in every single souvenir shop. The cult of patriarchate has not definietly disappered. Maybe it is not as strong as in the times of Lenin or Stalin but still the smiley faces of Russian leaders are winking at you from the shop-windows almost everywhere. However, mentioning a positive side I was quite suprised with the amount of Soviet propaganda memories in a form of posters or postcards, which you can find also in every souvenir shop( I managed to supply myself with a dencent amount of gifts like that). It means the Russians can already distance themselves from those times and can even laught at it.

vrijdag 20 augustus 2010

survival guide

Since one of my closest friends has kindly informed me that im getting old and boring and my my writing style has lost its own specific acuteness, ive decided to leave behind the description of consecutive days  and focus on more topical issue. That is why the title of today's post refers to some essential tips of survival for the total Russian freshers.


By all means the only legal local currency is russian ruble ( don't be misguided if the gentleman in the currrency exchange in warsaw is struggling very hard to sell you belarussian rubles instead of the one you really need, just keep focused) and any attempt of paying with dollars or not even think about  it Euros will end quite badly. Unless anything untoward happens you can exchange money in your own country ( if you live in Poland dont count only on your luck), but if you happen to forget to do it  no worries, there are like thousands of cash machines on every single corner, in every local shop or on every average tube station. So supply yourself with a fan of credit or debit cards and have fun. A word of warning to business travellers who love paying in the restaurants by credit cards: khym khym DONT DO THAT!!!!!!!! If you like you credit card and want to keep your current account number and especially money you have to be cautious because it's quite probable the number of your card would be copied. 


As one of my Dutch friends  nimbly noticed the  streets in Russia are very wide in comparison to the rest of Europe.  Unfortunately that's the only compliment they deserve. Following the communist legacy you will find a lot of uneven roads and holes in the concrete. If you are from eastern Europe you won't be suprised but if by any chance you come from "the civilisation"( greetings to Germany) you have to provide yourself with a dose of tranquilizers. 
What is more if you are not a big fun of rollercoasters, better stay at home. There are many ways of travelling in the city: you can choose between a normal bus, minibus, trolleybus, marshrutnoye taksi or elektryczka. Unfortunately the variety does not go along with the quality. People whose blood pressure is quite high shoould just choose walking. Despite the previous, the biggest advantage of want St Petersburg transport has to offer is its low prize. You can travel by bus starting just from 19 rubles and by minibus 20. Moreover, if your haggling skills are quite high you can travel by private taxis starting even from 150 rubles. But  keep in mind that the drivers  from eastern ex soviet republics will not always get you to the destination you wanted. So never travel on your own by the unlicensed cabs. 

For my favourite Japanese and American tourists


Some may think that the souvenirs should not be included in the survival tip but believe me buying something nice for a decent prize in st. Petersburg is almost such a challenge as getting home by an unlicensed taxi. Those who are lucky enough to bring vodka as a souvenir from the trip should be in the 7th heaven. Not only the prizes are very low, but also the variety and this time the quality is definietely more than good. But remember there are some custom limits, so if you don't want to walk through the red channel at the airport don't cross the heaven's borderline. Those of you who are more traditional and can be satisfied with matrioshka dolls should also keep a few tips in mind. First of all remember to haggle with a trader before paying the final prize, in most cases the dolls are extremely overprized and sellers count on the naivity of the potential purchasers. Second of all, check before buying if the doll is not broken or does not have any hidden defects, its quite common since the manufacture was invented in the 18th century. Third of all, the matioskha is not a trip neccessity, there are so many things Russia has to offer ( covered in following  post).

donderdag 19 augustus 2010

Tsarskoe Selo

The Lavish imperial palace at Tsarskoe Selo was designed by Rastrelli in 1752 for Trasina Elizabeth. She named it the Catherine Palace in honour of her mother Catherine I, who originally owned the estate...what is more the magnificent parks and gardens surrounding Catherine Palace were created out of dense forest by thousands of soldiers and labourers, making it one of Russia first landscaped parks...
That's just a pinch what one can find about the Tsarskoe Selo in the guide, only an introduction to the experience one can easily call undescribable... this place is a real reflection on what can be understood by the Tsardom of Russia... all this monumentalism and glittering; stunning facades, columns, window framings, exquisite, neverending garden pathways, ponds, little ornamented bridges... All what the Great Russia had to offer in the time of its enlightenment
and that's what i mean by good company, copywrites once again reserved to Yoleen xx
It's def, one of the places which should be visited around St. Petersburg. Moreover, when one is lucky enough to have a good sightseeing company, no long lines and queues seem to be scary anymore. And the visit to the palace alongside the stroll around the pond would be unforgetable experience.

Tsarskoe Selo

Catherine Palace
Catherine Park
Great Pond
Cameron Gallery
The French-style formal gardens
The Great Hall
The Great Hall
Chesma Column

maandag 16 augustus 2010

The weekend finally has come and as the russian tradition states noone can stay on the weekend in the city. One either goes camping or sets off to the countryside to spend a lazy weekend surrounded by nature. Unfortunately none of us has a Datcha outside the city, which is passed from hands to hands by the consecutive generations. But in our case every difficulty can be overcome, that is why we managed to go to the countryside, visit a Datcha and finally get a proper bath in the batlic sea together with a sip of sun.
For the weekend excursion Nastya took us to the Rupin Datcha outside St. Petersburg, where we could admire the work of this Russian painter together with the beatiful surroundings were he used to live. I'm not suprised he managed to create such a good peace of art being inspired by the place he lived in. 
After the museum we went to the beach, where we spent almost entire afternoon: either sunbathing or swimming in the sea. Some of us proved themselves as very skilled swimmers and the others as also skilled lazybones.
finally what is to mention we drove by the famous Elektyczka to the DAtcha and on our way back, its definietly unforgettable experience!!!!!! there is nothing to describe, one has to find out himself to know the truth. 
No more words just photos :)

vrijdag 13 augustus 2010

Friday part 2

inevitable has just happened the weekend has begun and even though the white nights in st. petersburg are over we  definietly managed to experience such a night on Friday...what I love in St. PEtersburg is the fact that this city never falls asleep, becasue the metro stops at midnight and the bridge closes the same time, when you get to the centre of the city you stay here until 6 in the morning. But believe me even the sleepyheads would enjoy their time here. Everything is thriving till the early hours, all the restaurans, caffees, pubs and clubs are open and full of people. so without the details we had a really enjoyable night!!!!!!