LucieT's Travel Journals


What is the best ethnic food you ever had that you just can't find at home?

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  • Currently in St. Petersburg, Russia

Novi God!

New Year with Tatyana and Kira

Novi God

Russia St. Petersburg, Russia  |  Jan 02, 2011
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I have really enjoyed the past couple of days. I must say that on my second night here I felt very disoriented and wished so much I knew Russian better. All I could think is that I couldn't do anything by myself in Russia. When I thought of spending two months here I felt very sick!!!  I think those were just very natural feelings to have, and I don't feel like this any longer. I think it was just culture shock hitting me hard, which is something that you eventually get over. I am very very excited to explore the city by myself and I am so glad I am here for two months. I could be here for a year and not have seen it all! Honestly, the city is beautiful beyond my wildest dreams and I do not know why more New Zealanders come here. Actually, it's probably having to get a Visa).

People here really do live in the huge Soviet style apartments. They tend to be very small. There is an elevator up to the apartment where I live, it's not in the best shape, but Tatyana, the lady I tutor, insists on using it. When I first came here the taxi driver took me up in the elevator. It kept shaking and jolting and he kept crossing himself which is not something you want to see when you are in an old elevator.

The day before yesterday Tatyana took me to Kazansky Cathedral, modelled on the Vatican. It was amazing! The architecture here is just incredible. I really cannot describe it. People were in there lighting candles to Orthodox saints. People kept barking at me in rapidfire Russian. What were they saying? God only knows, but I was pleased because it means I do not stick out like a foreigner. Well, that is until I inevitably couldn't answer and just stood there grinning like an idiot. (Doubly worse in Russia where smiling for no reason is seen as a sign you are not all there).

I have no idea how Russians stay so thin in a diet of animal fat and carbohydrates smothered in sour cream. But they are slim, and many are very very handsome/beautiful. On New Years I tried many Russian foods. There was a Russian 'salad' which is basically meat and cucumber, gherkin and onion mixed with mayonnaise. There was also a meat dish which was grated beef mixed with sour cream and put into a mold so you could cut slices of it. I tried caviar which was a bit to oily and fishy for my liking. Neverthless, caviar kept being piled on my plate. It took me a while to realise that if you finish something it is a sign you want more. Tatyana thinks I don't eat enough and keeps rubbing my back and saying "eat, eat, you are too slim". I think I could be 30 kgs heavier and still be "too slim".  Russians just eat so much. Tatyana says, "what do you eat for the fourth course in New Zealand?" and she is shocked when I say we do not have a fourth course, or even a second!

Tatyana's friend Kira came round for New Year. She is 84 and lived through the Leningrad blockade!! It was so amazing to talk with her, and to my delight she spoke English. I gave her a New Zealand calendar and we spent the next half hour running through the pronunciation of the Maori place names. She gave me a book of monuments of St Petersburg and gave me pages of painstakingly written explanations of the history of each one.

Like most Russians do, at midnight we watched the President's address. Tatyana and Kira are very fond of Dmitry Medvedev. But Putin!!! If Tatyana sees a picture of him or hears his name she clutches her heart and sighs. The nationalism in Russia never fails to surprise me. I don't think you could find a New Zealander that would clutch their heart at the sight of any politician. We drank champagne, wine and a homemade berry flavoured vodka which was very sweet. Every 2 minutes Kira and Tatyana would shout 'Na zdoroveje' (to your health) or 'Novi God' (happy new year) and we would all drink (it's obligatory). We didn't go to bed until fiveish and both Tatyana and Kira outlasted me haha.

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  • User Profile Photo
    jerry wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2011
    Lucky you.....The closest I've been to Russia was owning a Lada..... Unless you count Michigan.
  • User Profile Photo
    Ubu Trask wrote: Thu Jan 6, 2011
    nip nip

    Love you sista pants

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    Max Trask wrote: Thu Jan 6, 2011
    onya Lucie very proud of my girl my girl
    love you lots
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    Connor has read LucieT's journal and gave it a thumbs up Sun Jan 2, 2011
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    This is amazing, Lucie! Keep it up!
  • Novi God

    January 02, 2011
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