Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sometimes When You're Showering....

The water in Saint Petersburg starts to come out of the faucet like this......

or  better yet, like this!...

When that happens, it leaves the bottom of the tub like this....

And you think you're showering in a horror movie, like this.....

But then the faucet also starts to look a bit like this....

And you just casually get out of the shower and laugh because at least your hair was washed before all of the commotion and you have no other reactions left-it's become a totally normal happening in your life abroad. (how much you appreciate water at home!), 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On a Mission to a Saint Petersburg Market...

The following items were successfully purchased:
(1) Soviet Military Hat
(1) Soviet Military Officers' Jacket


"In Soviet Russia, Military Jacket wears you!!"

 Just kidding, hand over your Справки!!

And let's not forget the sweetest souvenir of them all, the Soviet Hat
(you've probably just ruined your chances at becoming President because you like cool souvenirs),

Friday, February 17, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen: Part II (Why do burritos follow me across borders?!)

     I hadn't realized last semester that burritos were becoming a common theme in my abroad experience, but lo-and-behold, I have again succumbed to their flavor-full, easy-to-make deliciousness. Although I don't eat burritos very often at home, they have become a comfort for me during my Indian and Russian adventures. One thing I enjoy about making a food from home in both countries I have visited this year is the challenge of seeing what ingredients I can manage to wrangle together and what flavors each area contributes to a food that now lies close to my heart (and frequently in my stomach). After my burrito experiment here in Russia, I can successfully conclude that India does lend interestingly delicious contributions to the home favorite (chapati instead of tortillas, delicious masala corn, breaking the taboo of the no "rice+chapati" equation, watching friends' host parents over-stuff their burritos, etc.), but if its an authentic burrito from home you are craving, you may have more luck finding the most similar ingredients in Russia. Armed with just a pot and a pan in our two-burner suite kitchen, my roommate and I set out to make burritos to suffice our actual craving of nachos (WHICH I PLAN TO HAVE TONIGHT, now that I've successfully tracked down tortilla chips!).
A mission successfully accomplished!
**Note: there were no pressure-cooker induced rice explosions in the making of these Россия burritos. :)

 My roommate, helping to cook up our burrito fillers!
(Beef, rice, and beans)

 (Can't forget the delicious home-made salsa!!)
And VOILA! Delicious, homemade Russian burrito success!!!

And some other delicious creations y'all are missing out on....
 Sweet and Tangy Garlic & Lemon Salmon
Seafood Pasta in a White Wine Cream Sauce

And in other news...only 87 days til I head home!!!!, 

Monday, February 13, 2012

For a 3 Hour Performance, the Ballet Didn't Feel Tutu Long......

Get it?!
(I thought I'd start things off with a really corny joke!)

     Last Wednesday (February 8th), I got to see my first ballet! Not only was I lucky enough to see a ballet in Russia at all, but as a first experience, seeing it in one of ballet's most renown countries was not a bad way to kick things off. For their 1086th performance, the Mariinsky Theater presented Don Quixote, a grand ballet in three acts (6 scenes), which with 3 intermissions took about 3 hours. And YES believe it or not my awkwardly short attention span did make it through every minute, of every scene, of every act, FOR THE WHOLE BALLET! 
     The story of Kitri and Basilio's forbidden love was beautifully accompanied by dance and orchestra as the audience was captivated by their determination to be together. Through the saving grace of the chivalrous Don Quixote, who is deemed the protector of the lovers, Kitri's father Lorenzo is persuaded to grant Basilio's dying wish-to give their love his blessing. Fooled into thinking he was destined for death, Lorenzo grants Basilio's wish and at the wedding of he and Kitri, Don Quixote attends their wedding as the guest of honor before departing for new adventures.
     My favorite part?:As a former theater dork (circa the high school days), who always fancied the work of a good costumer, I do have to say that the colorful and fun Spanish-style skirts did help to hold my attention when the twirling and leaping got to be a bit much for me. Each character's costume helped really helped to bring out the vibrancy of Spanish culture, complimenting both the story and time. Not to mention, how well Espada, Don Quixote and Basilio could pull off tights!

If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Russia, a ballet performance should definitely make your "to-do" list. 

The beautiful Mariinsky Theatre

Taken at the closing of the performance
     **a clip from a 2006 Don Quixote performance at the Mariinsky

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Frozen Hair, Don't Care: Catherine Palace & Park

Fact: Frozen hair is not fun. It is likely to break, make you look momentarily old, and means that it's probably much too cold for you to be outside....
     Follow-up fact: Sometimes it's worth the risk in order for adventuring to occur.

     This past Saturday at 9:50 am, I bundled up in as many layers as my jacket could contain, hopped on a bus, and set off for another student excursion-this time to Catherine Park and Palace in Pushkin, about 25 km from SPb. With weather in the negatives my main concern was that my legs would run the risk of freezing right off my body if we were going to do any walking around (which SURPRISE we were told we would be doing!!), but, after some adventuring in our allotted free time, I soon learned that girls with long hair that does NOT like to stay in a hat, run the risk of having their hair freeze! And I kid you not when I say that it can, in fact freeze and break right off (I guess it would save me the need of having to get a hair cut, no?). After a tour of the palace and its b-e-a-utiful rooms, we were given a few hours to explore the surrounding area on our own. Hoping to escape the hair-freezing cold, I joined some friends in a hunt for coffee, which lead us to "The Tzar's Pancakes"-the tiniest shop you can imagine with the most delicious chocolate/banana stuffed pancakes (more like crepes) I have ever had...and coffee too! But we could not avoid the cold forever. After our snack, we continued on to bravely explore the snow-covered palace grounds.
     Catherine Palace is named after Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after the death of her husband. The palace was reconstructed in 1743 by Empress Elizabeth, who chose Pushkin as her summer residence and completed in 1756, taking the palace from a modest 2-story residence to the beautiful palace we see today. It took 100kg of gold to complete the palace to Elizabeth's liking, using state and private funds to decorate the building (and we thought Deval Patrick re-curtaining his office with our money was outrageous!)
     The most breathtaking room of the palace, in my opinion, is the Amber Room.
 According to some sources, the room was originally completed in 1770, using amber mosaic presented to Peter the Great by Friedrich- Wilhelm I of Prussia (to celebrate the peace between Russia and Prussia at the time), additional amber panels (to total 450kg of amber), and other gemstones from the Ural and Caucasus Mountains. The room was so fragile that in the 19th century alone, it was restored at least 3 times on top of there being a constantly employed caretaker of the room. In 1941 when the Nazis took over Pushkin during Operation Barbarossa , they took with them the panels of the amber room. It is said that the room was dismantled in about 36 hours (who could even confirm something like that?) packed it up into 27 crates, and shipped it all to Konigsberg, Germany where it was re-installed in Konigsberg castle museum on the Baltic Coast. It was taken down from the castle museum in 1943 and in August 1944 the city was destroyed during ally bombing raids. There are a few interesting curse/conspiracy theories regarding the Amber Room and its removal, if you're interested in checking them out, riiiiight HERE and HERE (for anyone with lots of spare time and curiosity, this article's a little more in-depth).
     The reconstruction and restoration of the Amber Room began in 1979 and finished up 25 years later in 2004 at a cost of about $11 million dollars. The room was dedicated in a ceremony by Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Schroder, echoing the same peaceful opening of the original room, in celebration of the 300th year anniversary of the city of St. Petersburg.

And as always, it wouldn't be a complete post without pictures!
Hope you enjoy the slideshow!!!
(It was my first time making one),

SMC Blogger