Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Trip to Catherine's Palace

Today we had a wonderful second trip to Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) to see Catherine's Palace, while Lydia stayed home with her nanny. This time we toured inside the palace, which was breathtaking! (And Aaron got us the resident's price instead of the tourist's price, with his good pronunciation of "We live in St. Petersburg." We also had to show proof of registration). We took a lot of pictures to share with you on the following slideshow, but unfortunately, in the most beautiful room, the Amber Room, they did not allow photos. The entire surface of the walls are covered in a mosaic of amber pieces in different shades. There is some interesting history of this room. The treasures of the room were taken by the Nazis, only to go mysteriously "missing" while under Soviet occupation. For years, no one knew what had happened, and the Germans funded restoration of the room. Then, in 2004, it was revealed that the original Amber room treasures were accidentally destroyed by fire, while under the care of Russian soldiers. They were too terrified of Stalin to tell the truth, so they created a myth about what had really happened. 60 years later, the truth is now known.

Christmas Pictures

Here are some pictures of our Christmas day. We had a nice Christmas, even though we missed being with family. Lydia opened some Christmas presents from Mommy and Daddy, and then in the afternoon we had dinner at the home of some friends. Lydia enjoyed being with two other little girls. Maybe by the Russian Christmas (January 7) some gifts from Lydia's grandparents will be here! We put a new video of Lydia saying Merry Christmas on our YouTube site, so if you haven't seen it yet, you should check it out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Walk on the Islands (12/22/07)

Here is a slide show from last Saturday, when we took a walk around Yelagin and Kamenny Islands, which are in the northern part of the city.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas on Nevsky

Last night we had a Christmas party with our co-workers, and on the way home we did a video panorama of a little area around the Ploshad Vostanya Metro station, on Nevsky Prospect. First you see the metro station, then it scans to the square, and finally the Moscow Train Station (Moskovsky Voksal).

At the party, they also sang "Happy Birthday" to me, since yesterday was my (Danielle's) birthday! And, Aaron gets a pat on the back for showing up with flowers for me!
video

Here's a picture looking down Nevsky, toward the northwest, from where we were standing. It's not the best view of the street, but you can see the colored lights above it. This direction would head toward the Neva River and the Winter Palace.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving & Mother's Day






Happy Mother's Day! Didn't know it was Mother's Day? It is in Russia! We didn't know it until we got to church this morning (the Nazarene Church across the street), and at the end of the service they had all the mothers stand up, and they gave us all chocolate. We had a good week, and enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with friends here. We had turkey and all the other traditional goodies. I made the pumpkin pies, and I even used real pumpkin. The canned stuff is hard or impossible to find here. The pies actually turned out to be really good! Here are a couple of pictures from Thanksgiving:
Lydia enjoyed lots of attention and playing with the other kids.


On Friday, we had a training session in the morning, and in the afternoon we went to the Russian Museum. It is a museum devoted to Russian art, and it was very interesting. Lydia spent the day with her nanny. Here is a picture of the Russian Museum, which was once a palace. Many of the rooms are very ornate. You can see the top of the Church on Spilled Blood in the background.
Yesterday (Saturday), we took a little trip by electric train to the town of Pushkin (also called Tsarskoe Selo), which is basically a suburb of St. Petersburg. Some people were having kind of a yard sale, which we wanted to check out, and we took the opportunity to check out the Catherine's Palace while we were there. Althought we've heard the inside is beautiful, we decided to save that for another day and enjoy the rare sunshine outside. The palace is surounded by a gorgeous park and gardens, with ponds, streams, bridges, and little islands. My toes were froze by the end the day, but it was a nice walk. Since the sun is always so low in the sky now, it made for some neat lighting in some of the pictures. As you can see in the following slide show, Lydia slept through most of the walk.





Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Link

I have added a link to our You Tube page, where you can watch some cute videos (all of Lydia of course). The newest one is of Lydia counting. It usually goes, "two, tee, two, tee..." Although sometimes, she does include four after three, and if I'm counting with her, she knows that nine comes after eight. I'm not sure where "one" is; everything starts with two! Of course, it's always better to have TWO cookies, or TWO books, isn't it? Maybe that's why she now insists on sleeping with her baby and her monkey (whom she calls "aa-aa.")

Lydia started coming down with a cold again yesterday. It doesn't seem too bad so far. She was coughing today, but didn't seem to be feeling too bad. We put her to bed a little earlier than usual because she seemed tired, but now (9:25 pm) I hear her in her crib talking and singing. At least she's happy.

When Lydia has a cold we get all kinds of Russian advice on what is good for her- warm clothes, especially around her chest and neck, and make sure her feet are warm; honey; absolutely no cold drinks- her milk and juice should be warm; and lots of vitamin C. I guess it makes sense!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Slide Show from Oct. 20

Here is another slide show from October 20, when we took a long walk around some of the historical sites of the city. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Smolny Cathedral Slide Show



I figured out how to include a slide show! This one is of the Smolny Cathedral, which is very close to where we live. The pictures are from September 30, and it was a beautiful, unusually sunny, day. (We now realize how unusual a sunny day is!) The fall leaves were very pretty!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Snow!


Here is the view from our living room window two days ago, and it still looks much the same! It snowed a little on Sunday, but this was the first snow to stick around. Yesterday there was a nice light snow falling all day. We felt like we were having the real Russian experience, walking down the street in the afternoon with the snow falling. The snow quickly melted and turned to slush on the streets and sidewalks, but the trees and parks looked pretty. Our cultural training session for the afternoon was cancelled, so we visited the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect. It is still a working orthodox church (so it was free to get in!). There was no service going on at the time, but there were many people lighting candles in front of the icons, or praying and kissing them. This was a new thing for me to see! It was beautiful inside- unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures. I didn't have my camera anyway, so it was just as well. If you want to see a picture of it and read some information, you can go to http://www.saint-petersburg.com/virtual-tour/kazan-cathedral.asp .

I had another new experience on the metro ride home. It was rush hour, the most crowded time to be on the metro. We waited with the horde for the train to come and the doors to open, and as soon as the last person exiting the train stepped off, we all pushed and squeezed onto the train to fill every possible space with people. Aaron and I got separated and I was smooshed up against someone sitting on the opposite side of the car (I had a hard time keeping my bags from hitting the lady in the face.) This was a bad situation, since we were getting off at the next stop, and I had several layers of people to get through to make my way out the train doors. When we stopped, Aaron was able to slip out, but I couldn't get through! I tried hard to push people out of the way, and say, "izvenitya!" (excuse me), and I finally got to the open doors. Unfortunately, this was at the exact moment that the next flood of people started streaming into the train car, and I had to back up or risk being trampled. So, I yelled out to Aaron that I would be back, and I had to get out at the next station and then take the opposite train back. Not really a big deal, just an interesting situation. I need to learn how to say, "I'm getting off at the next stop," so that I can get reshuffled and closer to the doors when I'm in a big crush like that. The most interesting thing is that with all the pushing and shoving, no one gets upset or starts swearing at each other. Everyone just keeps a straight face and acts like nobody else is around, even though their body may be in contact with 5 other bodies at one time. It is just accepted as normal, because it is. It works the same way squeezing onto the escalators. If you can get past any notions of personal space, it's not too bad.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Here are some more pictures! First, one of the views up and down our street, and what our stairway looks like inside. On the outside entrance to our building, you punch in a code for our apartment, and it rings our "domaphone." We can then pick up the domaphone, ask who is there, and push a button to open the door. Then you would come up the stairs to our apartment.

Next, some pictures of the park near our apartment. Lydia loves the sliding board. You can also see her see-sawing with her friend Abby. The last picture in the collage is of the main park entrance.

And finally, some street views near the park entrance. There is amazing architecture all around the city.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More pictures!

Here is our living room. You can see we have a nice large window, and a large storage cabinet area. You can also see the great drying racks you can find here. Most people don't have dryers, but these racks work quite well in the winter when the heat is on in the buildings. Most apartments are quite warm (some people say too warm, and you can't control the temperature).

Here are the rest of the rooms in our apartment. The washing machine is small compared to American standards (and it takes about an hour and a half for one cycle), but we are so thankful for it, since I don't think there are laundromats here. We are also thankful for the new toilet, which you can see is MUCH nicer than the old one. Lydia's room is currently occupied by a friend from central Asia that is staying with us, so you can see Lydia's crib in our room. We currently have 2 single beds, but we plan to push them together and put a large mattress on top to make one larger bed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome to our Blog!

Hello! Thanks for checking out our blog! Our hope is that it will help you to experience a little bit of life in St. Petersburg with us! First, a picture from our trip here. This was our flight from the US to Frankfurt, Germany. Lydia and another little friend had great beds to sleep in on the way. They slept a little (think slumber party!). So Mommy and Daddy also slept a little!








Now for some pictures of where we live! This picture shows the hall of our apartment, looking towards the entrance. Then you can see the close up of the inner door, which Aaron had to smash open with a meat mallet, after we got locked inside our apartment, and our friend and the landlady had to climb in through the window to try to help us!










If you come inside our door and turn left, you would see the entrance to our living room.




Straight ahead, you would see the door to our bedroom, which you see in the picture below on the left. There is an old freezer in the hall, which probably doesn't work. There are all kinds of odds and ends that were either left here by tenants, or belong to the landlady. Lydia's room is to the left if you are facing our bedroom, and if you turn right, you see our toilet room door straight ahead (below, right).


If you go toward our toilet room, the kitchen is on the left, and the bathroom is on the right. Now for the kitchen:

Everyone seems to have these great dish racks in the cupboard above the sink. -->