Week 3 in St Pete: A long way to the Mariinsky theatre – goodbye Helen!

As per my last update, I took the monday off to relax after a pretty heavy weekend out (not used anymore to such liberal bar openig hours), but managed to catch up with Helen to chat about previous days and school gossip at one of the many Irish pubs in town. It was fun and Helen informed me that my absence provided plenty talking points for the class – chiefly the Saturday morning jump into the canal ;o) while chatting at the pub we decided to go to the theatre together and managed to sort out tickets for the mariinsky theatre later in the week – swan lake it would be on helen’s final night in town. 

School was better this week and the last week in level A1.2. From next week we progress to pre-intermediate level (though i somehow missed the friday test). Below a shot of our A1.2. teacher Daria – thanks for all your patience. Its been great.


We would make these pub meetings a regular event from there and kicked it off with a visit to an aserbaijani restaurant tuesday followed by a rather classy live music venue on the fontanka canal (white night music joint). Food, drink and chat were all top class and made for yet another fun evening out.


Wednesday i had my usual catch up with the inlaws – this time with alex, his cousin and mama present. It was the first time that we all spoke exclusively in russian all evening. Alex was also pretty excited to do daddy’s russian homework (i should have had him alongside me all the way). As he commented, not too hard so he needs to work on his adjective endings (who am i to judge!). In any case its harder for daddy, but at least his handwriting is as bad as mine. As usual, food and cognac galore at the shabalin’s.

Thursday helen, julie and myself went to one of the best pubs in town (dickens  on the fontanka canal) and enjoyed the nice weather in the garden though only about 7pm the sun actually hit you. The main event was when Julie got excited about a haircut after we watched a russian shaving his friends head. She decided to ask for the shaver and helen had a go at a new haircut for her with some remarkable success. Funny beyond believe the whole situation and suddenly the focus for all customers sitting in the garden. See for yourself regarding the result. I still can’t believe this happened. Needs some balls (or the female equivalent).


After Dickens, we decided to go for russian dinner afterwards at изба. Slow service, but nice food. The issue i guess was the samagon – russia’s version of moonshine – which ordered alongside a decent portion of salo (basically slices pig fat). Hits you hard and almost cost julie her phone (as she left it in the menu that she returned to the waiter). Drama with happy ending! Fun discussions continued from everything like US politics to gender equality. 
Who is Julie?

  • She lives in Utah in a shared house with many friends and studies philosopy and antropology
  • Outspoken anarchist 
  • Does loads of voluntary work including providing free bikes (and advice how to fix them) and food to people
  • She and her friends celebrate a garlic festival – some sort of anti thanksgiving (since the americans stole the land and in theory should all leave the continent)
  • A lot more. But that remains offline

Half way through the evening we met Hank. A chinese born australian who studies piano at the st petersburg conservatory. He caught us speaking english on the street and asked to join. Altogether a really good night out.


While my friends went home, i barely made my next catch up with anna who i got to know the prededing sunday. She had a bad day of interviews and was up for some company. We had few drinks at a georgian restaurant before moving over to the infamous dumskaya street where one pub sits next to the other. They are all opened until the last guests leave – Well, by 8am they closed. Gave us a chance to walk about town, have breakfast, visit a cathedral and the training program of the russian navy for the upcoming national navy holiday. All bridges open at 11am. The sun was out too and invited for some lying about in the park. Needless to say that i skipped school. Good times. Friday night i skipped too ;o)


Saturday i met helen again for some more cultural program. We went to the nearby town of pushkin to admire ekeratina’s palace (well, one of them). Nice walk in the park before the weather turned to its usual rain. By then hank had gotten in touch and we agreed to meet back in the city. 

After yet another irish pub where helen and i enountered a somewhat strange russian girl with a seemingly dark history, we headed for mascha and ivan’s restaurant for a bit of food and my favorite beer – chimay blue. Hank joined us briefly before taking us to Pinch – great cockyail bar where we did some relationship councelling for him. Really nice guy. He is off to catch up with family / friends and play at a festival in germany, but really hope to see him again in september. 

                              
Sunday was family day and i took alex to divo park alongside yura, nikka, artëm and daniel with family. Kids had fun. Parents too! After that alex and i attended the 1st birthday party of alex cousins sister. Famiky gathering … and you guessed it more food and drinks. 


The evening held something special. Yuri and daniel treated me to another football game. This time, at least technically, an away game. We went to see tosno playing zenit at the old zenit stadium. Needless to say that this turned out as a home game. 1:0 to zenit, fireworks and i found myself singing at least some of the songs i learned the previous week. Seems i bring the team luck, as yet another sluggish performance brought about three points for the team in ‘голубые’. Next week spartak will in town. Showtime!

​​
Monday i turned up in school ready for the next level though still weak grammatically. It was tiring and i couldnt wait to get it done. This was especially so since the last evening with helen was waiting and our tickets formswan lake. Julie and hank joined for pre-performance drinks at the shamrock. How nice of both. First farewells to helen, who is heading back to canberra as i write this, and then it was time to see st pete at its finest. We were off to the mariinski theatre just opposite the pub.

While it was helen’s first ever ballet, the place holds some memories for me. First time i came here the evening before i met my wife to be on a corporat event 9y ago. I went again with katya a year later. But there was no time to dwell in memories for thaikovsky’s swan lake was on. The third time i see it in less than a year having been at the royal abert hall with cedric and in dresden with chanel. It was to be great yet again though i liked the performance in dresden most.

Goodbye Helen!

What a week.

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