It's been a LONG time. i am truly sorry. but for those of you who have been faithful and have hung in there with me and haven't given up on me....you will receive your just reward. today. you're about to get an overload of posting from me - pictures and stories of life this last month and tidbits of things that have been filling my days. and there has been a lot. so sit back, grab a cup of coffee and spend some time with me.
Ok, so i'll begin with a list. because i'm fond of lists. and they don't take up too much space, yet cover a lot of ground in short order. so, with that said, here are some things i've been enjoying this month:
1. I WENT CLIMBING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR! (and i suck.) Pavel, my student who is also an avid climber invited me to one of the climbing gyms he frequents. (and when i say "frequents", i mean he goes climbing about 4 times a week and he climbs at about a 5.10-5.12 level. for those of you non-climbers...that is GOOD.) i was way rusty and this particular gym was completely bouldering, which is not my forte' but i still enjoyed myself like crazy, and went home exhausted, sore, with a blister on my forefinger, and totally happy.
2. it has been raining in St. Petersburg for about a month. and when i say about a month, i mean constantly. rain. rain. rain. everyday. rain. ugh.
3. the days have grown so much shorter at an alarming rate. (not that it's very light anyway these days since i haven't seen THE SUN here in forever.) but it is definitely dark now when i wake up in the morning at 6am and it's dark when we go to bed at 11. much changed from a month ago.
4. books i have read and enjoyed this month:
The Old Man and the Sea
Pride and Prejudice
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
5. Russia and Georgia had, and continue to have, a conflict which i'm sure you know about unless you've been living under a rock. it has been a hot topic of conversation here, obviously.
6. Sam and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I actually had the whole day off work, so we slept in, had a relaxing day around the house, then went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant, which had been recommended by one of my student. the tiramisu was excellent!
7. We took a trip to Finland and Sweden for a week's break from Mother Russia. We took the bus overnight to Helsinki, spent the day viewing the sites, and stayed a hostel located in the 1952 Olympic stadium. The next day we had more time in Helsinki, did some shopping at H&M (so much cheaper than shopping in Russia! and i don't feel like shooting myself because i'm not an anorexic Russian cutie that wears size 2...which the majority of the clothes are.), and then we boarded the ferry to Stockholm, Sweden. We spent a day in Stockholm, went to the Royal Palace and Old Town, and had the best falafel ever. We spent the night in a brand new hostel which we will affectionately call "IKEA-land" because it was like living in the IKEA showroom. everything down to the silverware. We watched the changing of the guard at the palace the next day before catching our bus to Hudiksvall (4 hours to the north) where our friend, Karin lives. Karin is Swedish and graduated from Sam's medical school last year and is now doing her internship in Hudiksvall. We had a blast there enjoying the company and hospitality of a good friend. she showed us the town, we had a picnic on the beach, watched the ships sailing in the harbor and had coffee and ice cream and the local place in town. we went to a party her co-workers were having, and even though he went early so as to catch them before they were extremely drunk, we must have arrived too late. it turned out to be a fun and very entertaining evening, complete with paper hats, Swedish songs, popcorn, crayfish and dancing to songs from "The Little Mermaid" blasted on the stereo. We left Hudiksvall after 2 days there are we wished we could have stayed longer, as it was probably the best part of our trip. It was beautiful and peaceful and the air was crisp and clean. just lovely. we returned to Stockholm on the bus in time to get onto the ferry back to Helsinki. We over-nighted on the ferry again to arrive in Helsinki at around 9am and had the entire day in Helsinki again until our bus left at 11pm that night. we didn't have any plan of what to do or anyplace to go, so we put all our stuff in a locker for the day and basically wandered, trying to fill our time. we shopped a little more, went to the market for lunch for the small whitefish from Lapland that Sam couldn't get enough of the first time around; we had coffee, surfed in the internet on the free wifi, and i fell asleep in the train station for a while. Finally at around 5pm when we had run out of ideas, we ended up at the bus station where we ate our dinner and basically wished it was time to go. but i leafed through a booklet on Finland that we had picked up and stumbled across the fact that there was a football (soccer) match at Finair Stadium going on at that very moment. and, since we had stayed overnight at the olympic statdium which is right nest to Finair statdium, we knew that the hill next to the stadium overlooked the pitch perfectly, so we hopped a tram and snagged spots on the hill with some other locals and enjoyed a very good match and a glorious sunset to boot. the bus ride back to Russia was a fuzzy blur, as i was so exhausted from the previous night of "sleeping" (or lack thereof) on the floor of the ferry, then wandering randomly in town all the following day. so i pretty much sacked out the whole trip, with occasional wakings to change position or go through border control. we arrived in St. Petes at 6am loaded our increasingly heavy packs onto our backs one last time and trudged (through the rain of course) back to our apartment. upon arrival we immediately got showers and slept till noon.
pictures for this trip will follow! I've posted some to my Flickr already, but i have a lot, so i'll post in stages.
so, if you've made it through with me....congratulations! this was my month. now i'm back to work - my 3 individual students and 1 class - and sam is set to begin his 4th year of med school on Sept. 1st! Please pray for all that goes along with that.
oh! one last thing...my hair is curly again! it has gotten quite long and finally made it to the point where i wanted it so i could go curly again. yippe! yay for new hairstyles. and for new jeans which i got at H&M. this is a big deal, as previously stated in my story. Ok, enough from me. be on the lookout for pictures as the days proceed!