Rubles and Ramblings

Rubles and Ramblings

Monday, April 13, 2015

This Week's Ramblings...

Hello everyone!  I have had a very busy and exciting week so I decided to write a full post to share my pictures of everything that has been going on in Russia.  My week started out with a quest to get souvenirs for friends and family...After picking out a few things, my friends and I decided to fool around in Palace Square and take advantage of the sunshine!  
Carriage rides in front of The Hermitage
Entrance to Palace Square
 After hanging around in the square,  we got some "street treats" as we like to call them, just some pastries from a vendor for a quick afternoon snack!
Too excited for street food...

On the walk back to the Metro, we spotted a sign in memory of the Siege of Leningrad.  This was when the Nazis bombed the city for hours & sometimes days over the span of 2 years.  During that time, the people of St. Petersburg (formerly known as Leningrad) had to hide out in bomb shelters and listen to the radio constantly for updates on these bombings.  The city put up signs on the sides of the street that were deemed unsafe to walk on due to frequent bombings.  In memory of this tragic time in St. Petersburg history, this sign indicating unsafe conditions for that side of the street remains.
 So that was my day in a nutshell, shopping around for Russian souvenirs, goofing around in Palace Square with my friends, eating street food, and witnessing history in the most unsuspecting places.

On Thursday my St. Petersburg History class went on an excursion to The St. Petersburg State Public Library, the first public library in Russia.  It has over 14 million volumes, making it the largest libraries in the world.  A vast portion of this library were first editions of books.  They were so old that they were completely handwritten!

My favorite part was seeing the collection of books owned by Voltaire that Catherine the Great purchased.  There were even volumes with Voltaire's handwritten annotations and comments in the margins!  
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the library, it was so interesting seeing the worn out books lining every inch of space on the walls.  Some of the most precious books in the world dated back from the 15th century are housed in this library that Catherine the Great herself established.
The next excursion I had this week was to Novgorod, Russia's oldest city.  My AIFS group and I traveled by charter bus and slept for most of the 4 hour journey there.  Once we arrived, we visited a park that had rebuilt the traditional log cabins that the first settlers of Novgorod lived in.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside, so we spent time walking around the grounds enjoying the sunshine and the smell of pine all around.   
Russian Orthodox church on the left
Wooden swing!
We made a friend!
Being in the city made me forget how much I enjoy being out in nature, so Novgorod was the perfect break from St. Petersburg. After the log cabins, we went to visit the Kremlin.  Every Russian city has a kremlin of some sort, it's basically just a fortress that has churches inside.  Crossing the bridge was my favorite part though, the views were incredible! 
River and the Kremlin walls
View crossing the bridge to get to the Kremlin
Typical Novgorod churches
Unfortunately because of the long bus ride back to St. P, we couldn't stay in Novgorod for much longer, so we headed back onto the bus for another 4 hour ride.  After a busy and exhausting day in Novgorod, I got to watch the sun set over the Russian countryside to complete my visit.
 The next day was Easter Sunday for the Russian Orthodox church.  My roommate and I decided to wake up early and go to Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect to see an Easter service.  It was unlike any church service I have ever been to.  All women must have their heads covered before entering an Orthodox church.  Once inside the cathedral, the priests are on the alter with a huge golden tabernacle & crucifix singing hymns (in Russian) and waving incense.  The congregation stands the whole time, bowing and crossing themselves almost every second.  Because Orthodox services typically last for 4 hours, Katie and I stayed for about 30 minutes.
Kazan Cathedral 
Are we Russian yet?
After Easter service, a few friends and I dyed eggs and ate traditional Russian Easter cakes and treats.  It was all homemade and soo delicious, here are a few pics of my Easter morning in Russia! 

For the first time, it finally felt like spring in St. Petersburg!  With the sun out and a high of 70 degrees, I dragged my friends out of the dorm to find a mosaic park I read about.  It was a bit of a walk to get there (especially after getting my group lost a few times), but we finally found it!  

Group pic with the mosaic wall!
Shameless selfie :*
Overall, it was a great week in St. Petersburg!  This Wednesday I'm going to Finland & Estonia with my study abroad group, so another post to come soon about my weekend there.  I have a little over a month left here, crazy how fast my semester has gone by...Until next time!! до свидания!


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