Pushkin, Disneyland, & Honey 2nd October Weekend 9th – 11th

I apologize for this almost “double” post, so soon since my last one, but I need to catch up to the present. The weekend began shortly after my Friday lunch when I headed off to the Higher School of Economics to practice piano on the only grand piano I’m allowed to play: Then Tanya, a friend I met at the dorm when she stopped to listen to me practice on the upright there, called me and said we were going to the Pushkin museum. They had a visiting gallery of the Lichtenstein family. Some of my favorite painters and their pieces were: Freidrich Gauermann: The Well at Zeelam Lake. Watering Horses at Lake Zell. The Harvest Wagon. Ferdinand Goerg Waldmuller: View of Moedling. Thomas Ender: The Gulf of Sorrento. Jakob Alt: Church at Kaschau. Jens Lekman: Black Cat. Then we visited the sculptor part of the museum. Then we headed over to Pushkin Cafe after the museum closed and we were forced to leave. Next Tanya showed me this grocery store that had taken occupancy in an old Soviet building that looked like an incredible museum. Later that day, Tanya and I decided to go to a honey festival where representatives from 81 provinces in Russia brought honey from their respective areas. The festival had been going on for almost a week now and was almost over so I wanted to get some honey before it closed. I started a new book the past week and am now into the a good amount of plot. Although, it’s pretty short so it wasn’t too difficult to get there. It’s called Fahrenheit 451. I really like it though. One of my favorite quotes so far is: “How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?” (p11) and I...

Vladimir & Suzdal Day 2, 4 October 2009

We woke early again, which was fine because we got great sleep in a super comfortable bed (except for the hot temperature so we took out the woolen filling in our sheets). Breakfast was great but we ate all the poppyseed sweets the night before so they didn’t have any more. We were late to the bus because some of us couldn’t get up…Adeel, and were taking a shower when we were leaving the hotel. We drove to where we were sightseeing in Suzdal and stopped to take a group photo in the morning light: Then we stopped in front of an ancient village, er rather about 17th and 18th century Russia. This bridge took us to the Suzdal Kremlin: We then drove back to Vladimir where we were given a treat: Traditional Russian Dancers. Then they pulled us all out into the main room for the final dance. Normally they move the guests out doors at that point and we dance outside, but it was too cold so we got stuck performing for all the other guests in the restaurant. When we got out onto the dance floor we were shocked by the BEAR that was standing in the center. It may have just been a man in a bear suit but probably it was a real bear. We had no idea what the point of the bear was, but it made everything more ridiculous and hilarious so we just went with it. We ran around holding hands in a circle and then ran to the center, hugged the bear, and ran back out. Then we played some games. The first was a blindfold game where the person in the center would get blindfolded and then another would spin him/her around and push him/her towards the circle and the blindfoldee would try to grab someone. Then they (yea...

Vladimir & Suzdal Day 1, 3 October 2009

It has been too long since I’ve last posted, my apologies. My classes have sped up, and along with spending more time on them I’ve been sightseeing more in Moscow instead of sitting at my computer. Shame on me. On another note, if anyone would like a picture from my blog, send me an email describing the photo, and from which post, and I can send you the full size version. It may take a few days but I’ll get to it eventually. Anyway, October 3rd came early. We had to be on the bus by 7am or something like that. A 4 hour drive followed. But no matter, I sat in the last row and stretched out until Natalie figured out that I had too much space compared to everyone else and stole the right 2.5 seats. But there was still enough room and I was able to get a decent 2 hours of sleep. Prior to us sleeping though, our tour guide, a friend of Elena Pischik, gets onto the bus and tells us he brought wine and bread & cheese for our morning meal to start the adventure. Naturally, I passed on the wine, but took the bread and cheese for when I woke. And when I did, I found the wine (and little sleep the night before) had quite an effect on our students: We finally arrived at Vladimir and faced the golden gate: We then took a bus ride to one of the active monasteries in Vladimir Then we drove to our hotel which was fantastic. All you can eat dinner buffet style, comfortable beds, and all you can eat breakfast, as well as ping pong tables, a disco, gym (I was able to ride a bike for 20 min!). They had these poppyseed mini-cinnamon-like pastries with lemon. They were to die for. I...

Lasagna, Math Party, My Room (21/9/2009 – 2/10/2009)

So as the title might imply, these two weeks were somewhat slow. But I needed that. As a group we got some good relaxation in but even with the extra time I didn’t get any more work done, and continued to stay up late the night before assignments were due. That’s changed now, I’m getting better and only have 2 more problems on my Topology assignment that’s due Wednesday. Anyway, the week began with my first session of tutoring an 8th grader in English, specifically translating vocabulary from maths, biology, chemistry, and other school subjects from Russian to English, so when he moves in November he won’t be super shocked/confused. I went out to where his school was on the very bottom of the red Metro line: On a different note, here’s how Russian’s park: Natasha scored an apartment when her ‘new’ family friends left town for 3 weeks. They have an oven and we lack one. So some of us went over one weeknight and had lasagna. All cooking supervised by Austin. For dessert we had a chocolate cake, with the thickest cream (homemade) I’ve had in a long time (to fix that I went for a run the next morning). On Friday night the 25th of September we went to Natalie’s (we began calling the apartment ‘Natalie’s), and had a low key night watching ‘I love you man.’ Here is a special photo of us chillaxing after the film: There are a few subtleties in this photo that make it special. First and foremost is the background on Chris’s laptop (the one in lower LH corner). It is a photo of the saddest dog in the world (taken from reddit.com). In addition, Chris’s expression matches that of the dog. Next, is the background of the laptop on the right of the screen: Mark Thom. Mark Thom is...

The Hermitage, St. Isaac’s, & My Favorite Building – Sunday 20 September 2009

We stepped out of the bus on a brisk morning and began our trek to the Hermitage. Along the way: Now onto St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Personally, I think Church of our Savior Christ Jesus in Moscow has nothing on this cathedral. St. Isaac’s seems larger, and is definitely more impressive. Then the tour ended and we headed over to my favorite building in all of Russia thus far. I had only seen it from afar while driving on the bus, but I definitely wanted to see it up close. Andrey Voronikhin modelled it after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. So I guess I will like the Vatican. Two statues stand guard over this cathedral: And finally, Kazan from the...

Peterhof Grounds Saturday 19 September 2009

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside Peterhof. This is quite a bummer as I can’t say I remember what any of the inside looks like. All I remember is that there were 3 architects and so 3 different styles. The first was Peter the Great’s architect, and his style was mostly wood and the most conservative in ornamentation. There is only one room left now in that style, and it is my favorite style out of the three. The second style was a Baroque style made by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli for Elizabeth of Russia between 1745 and 1755. During this phase, the upper gardens were added and two wings were added to the palace to make it massive. It looked better as a quaint summer palace with Peter, but Elizabeth wanted more I guess. The last style was overseen by Catherine the Great and was in a Classical style. I remember everything looking exquisite and amazing, but no details. The funnest part was that because it was raining/sprinkling, we had to wear these booties over our feet which were alike to the exercise board that simulated skating and you watched that workout video that led you through the workout. As a kid though I would just put the cloth booties on and slide across the 6 foot plastic board, which is exactly what we did all through Peterhof. Which reminds me, there were a lot of hardwood floors. This is probably why I don’t remember too much as we were skating the whole time. But after we finished with the indoors, we got to take photos of the outside: We had heard there were trick fountains all over the grounds but we had yet to see one. After deciding to find one, we realized we didn’t know what to look for as it probably...