Yusupov’s Moika Palace Friday 18 September 2009

Here is the tour of Yusupov’s Moika Palace: That’s it for today. But after these credits I’m a pull a Hollywood and give you a preview of the next post: Oh, just because I’m going to forget when I eventually post stuff for the current week: Have you all seen Kanye’s “I’mma let you finish…” speech where he interrupts Taylor Swift receiving her award at the MTV Music Video Awards? If not, go search it. Then understand that this has become an internet meme and is now the best line to use in any conversation. It even reached the ears of Obama, and Obama gave Kanye West a suitable name. We use the line practically in every conversation; it’s the best way to politely interrupt someone. Anyway, the one in last night’s conversation was top notch. In fact, it’s the best I’ve ever heard. So this is how it went: Lenny and I are going off on the second statement in Sylow’s Theorem and are talking about orbits and stabilizers. I say something about the size of the orbit_N (giS) just as Adeel is walking by the door and he leans in just before I finish my sentence and says, “Yo, I’m real happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Pluto has one of the biggest orbits of all time!” Starting out slow, and speeding up towards the end matching Kanye’s pace through the whole thing. It was magic. Pure genius. Comedy at its finest. Oh, more on topic, that first night in St. Petersburg we were at the hostel and went downstairs to take showers. We’re showering and Lenny says, “Caleb you’re a music major you should sing something.” So I bust out the American National Anthem. When I’m finished, feeling pretty good about the performance, I tell them they should sing something. Out of the blue,...

St. Petersburg Day 1 (First Half)

Our train arrived around 10am and I woke thirty minutes earlier to wash my face, get dressed, and eat some food. This was a good idea because when we stepped off the train we met our tour guide and off we went. No time to drop our stuff at the hostel. Into the bus and off to explore the city—reminiscent of somebody in my family during the Disney World Trip. To Dorothy’s credit, the tour guide did show us a bunch of stuff (so much that I took over 600 photos in 3 days, and am going to have at least 4 posts of St. Pete’s) and we had tons of fun, likewise at Disney World. We drove around the Winter Palace and parked behind it to walk through the square and grab a quick bite to eat for the kids who didn’t bring food. I snapped some shots of the Alexander Column and Winter Palace, and the building opposite the Winter Palace: We then went across the bridge to take some photos of the river and landmarks there. In these next few photos we’re going to play a game. It’s called spot “That Guy.” Some of you might be familiar with this game. It comes from those photos that people take while drunk, at a party, on vacation, touring, or all of the above. When they finally look at the photos they notice a random dude they’ve never seen before in the background of the photo smiling or making a face at the camera. Needless to say, we caught one of them in these photos. He’s in all three. See if you can spot him; it’s real obvious in the third one. We then drove further down the river and I took a photo in front of a fairy statue: We drove to a park and walked around...

Short Week before Petersburg

This week 9/14 – 9/18 was shortened to 9/17 because Thursday night we boarded a train to St. Petersburg. Not much happened this week except for Austin’s Birthday in which we went to FAQ Cafe, pronounced like F*ck, and the Russians ordered a few dozen bottles of champagne, chacha, and vodka. Adeel and I got a burrito and Mors juice (a super good berry a little bigger than a blueberry and purple, tasting like a blueberry mixed with raspberry. It’s basically my favorite juice now). Then we slipped out and got McFlurry’s at the McDonalds nearby. My first McFlurry ever. And the first time I’ve eaten anything from McDonalds since middle school. It was good though. But no more. Anyway, back to Monday. It has been 2 weeks since I got here and I still haven’t found the Puma store. But that changed today. I jumped on the metro to Sportivnaya Station where there was a Puma store and checked it out. They didn’t have anything I wanted and the styles were a little different but it was nice to know where the store was. More fun was the cool alley I walked through to get to the store and the school next to it: That alley was the highlight of my day. Anyway, moving on through the week we began to notice that a Rolls Royce kept appearing in the same spot parked on the street a halfblock away from our school: Thursday night came fast and I had to rush home from my 8pm piano lesson which began late and ended at 930 for an 1130 departure. Dinner was waiting so I scarfed down some food, showered, shaved, and over-packed for St. Petersburg. We walked out in the rain to the metro close to us, transferred once and arrived at the train station a little early for...

2nd Weekend: Moscow Bus Tour

Saturday we left the dorm and got into a tour bus to drive around Moscow. Actually, it turned out we were just driving to parking spots and then walking around Moscow, to much disappointment for some of us, who stayed up late and thought we could rest on the bus. The first thing we saw was something from America: Then we saw some remnants of Soviet past, the KGB buildings, which now house the FSB (the new Secret Service). We then proceeded to Red Square and parked on the side of the road. Upon exiting the bus our driver got arrested. The tour guide swore about how the bribing problem is disgusting here in Moscow and then she went over to talk to them. This is her coming back: We crossed to St. Basil’s. Apparently, this nickname is after a dude who preached in only chains in Red Square and then eventually died because of coldness and stuff. The church is actually called “Intercession Cathedral” because the multiple domes are actually multiple worship rooms. The largest can hold 5-7 people. So services are small. I don’t think they do them anymore. Since it was the end of Moscow’s Birthday week, men were tearing down the bleachers from the outdoor stadium: And right in front of the communists lies the center of Moscow: We then drove down the street to go inside the Cathedral of Christ Оur Savior. But they don’t allow photos so I don’t have any. Here is a photo of a statue across from it though: We then drove to Sparrow Hills where Moscow State University stands and a great view of the city can be held. Close to the Hills is the ski jump from the Russian Olympics way back when: At this point our driver and guide dropped us off downtown near the Ministry of...

1st Week of School

We woke early Monday morning  (8am) to get to the IUM which is 2 metro stops away, and then about a 10 minute walk. My first class was Basic Algebra at 930. I’m auditing this class to review what I learned last semester; plus, the professor, Igor Vladimirovich Artamkin, is pretty cool and the problems are fun. I got my first taste at 3 hour classes. At least they are only once a week. That’s the ‘Russian’ style apparently. Then lunch at 1300 in the cafeteria and then back to the dorm to hang out. We’ve been to this class twice now, and the professor has worn the same brown/tan polo. It’s a legit shirt but I dunno, he only sees us once a week. He could rotate his wardrobe a bit. (At least I know the professors are somewhat like some in the usa). Then we went back to school for the crash course in Russian language. Even though I’m taking the actual class, I thought it would speed up my learning a bit, and it has a little. This course is only 1.5 hours. Tuesday came a little later (class at 1115) with Russian Language 1, but I chose to wake up and go for a short run with Mike before class. We ran back to the monument park with the spire and then back. Still no bike. Our teacher looks like someone our age and barely speaks english. Between her mistakes and ours, we have a pretty good time and it is forcing us to communicate more in Russian. We found out at next Russian class (Thursday) that we have two teachers, and the other one is just as fun but speaks better english. After lunch some of us, those in Complex Analysis, met the Cowboy. At least that’s what we call him. His name is...

1st Weekend

My first week ended with an invitation to Ester’s Dacha, a country house <pronounced dah-cha where ‘ch’ sound is like in chair>. These are cottages within train distance of Moscow that the Moscovites own and use when they want to get away from the city/smoke/pollution/asphalt/cement etc. Apparently, the more expensive ones are closer to Moscow, which somehow doesn’t make sense to me as I would think the farther away from the city, the cleaner the air and overall atmosphere, at least that’s what it felt like to me as we traveled there (yes I know if the dacha is closer it takes less time to get there and since it’s closer to Moscow the real estate value might be higher, but still…) So anyway, this weekend I really got to see how beautiful Russia really is. Between rolling hills, small rivers, forests, and the clean country air, it was dachtastic! (a new word composed from the words ‘dacha’ and fantastic, with the definition as ‘as fantastic as being at a dacha’) This word might be used throughout this post so it’s important to know its meaning. Another phrase spontaneously created is ‘dached out’ used to express when ‘one has had too much of a dacha. However, a more general meaning has been proposed to include when one has had too much of something, usually a situation, location, or hang-out spot.’ An example is: After spending the entire month in the country side we were all dached out and ready to return to the bustling city life we had previously left behind. We met Ester at the northeastern side of the city after the afternoon classes at Komsomolskaya station to change from the metro to the train. We took a commuter train to her dacha which is in between Moscow and Tver. It was a comfortable ride that took about...

1st Week

On September 1, a girl from our dorm, Natasha, took us for a walk to the monument/park that reminds me of the Washington Mall. It’s pretty close to our dorm, it takes about 15 minutes to run there and about 7 minutes to run around the circular monument (this run has become part of my weekly exercises, there’s a .25 mile stretch of dirt that’s good for intervals too). So Ester took us for a short tour on September 3rd around the city, walking distance from our university. We saw her favorite building, her least favorite building, the kremlin from atop an awesome bridge, and a statue of Christopher Columbus with Peter the Great’s head (I’ll explain). The city is laid out using a ring system. The center ring surrounds the Kremlin, (no pictures of Kremlin in this post, they came out bad, and I have better from later) then the Garden Ring (the buildings along this ring are my favorite, I’ll talk about this in the post for ‘next’ week, which is actually last week…I’m way behind) then the 3rd transport ring (38 miles long), and they are building the 4th transport ring around the wayyy outside. Apparently it costs the government $200 million to build a mile or something. As I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the inside, check out this painting from Wikimedia...

Moscow Day 1

I am in Moscow now. Settled into dorm with roommate Michael. On the way here I learned that smoking is very cool. Check out Munich’s exclusive Smoking Club inside the airport: It was almost irresistable to pick up a pack of camels and get my cool on inside the club with the lady who had smoked too long and now was in a wheel chair. Unfortunately, there were no men with guns at the Moscow airport, just a nice couple who helped me through customs. It seems that the women are more inclined to help than the men. They are also a lot nicer and respond when I say hi. The men usually ignore me. Check out the concert we went to last night with Esther, Ana, and Ira (Ira picked me up at the airport, and the other two girls are affiliated with Math in Moscow). It was apparently a local band whose members went to the same university as Ana and Ira and were close friends. Everyone in the club all knew the band and were friends with each other. Other than the smoke it was super fun. They did some English covers: Radiohead, Tommy from the Rock Opera (The Who), and Twist & Shout. The rest sounded like Russian drinking songs. Oh, there was a solo yukalaylee where he played/sung a Beatles song. Can’t remember which. Here are the photos: The subways are indeed very pretty. Each station has different architecture. I’ll try to post more when I visit more stations. Here are a few: Alright, time for some lunch before I head down to the university. Dian, who comes from Beijing took most of these pictures. I will post more of the Russian monument park we went to. It reminds me of the Washington...