This week is reading week which fills me with giddy excitement as I’ve never had a reading week before (apparently studying Russian we have no need to read). But as everyone knows contrary to its title no-one actually reads on a reading week. It’s just half term. So I’ve always felt a little bit of anger that I don’t get this treat every term. But this term I do and so to celebrate we began our reading week in style… We went to St Petersburg.
Me and two of my friends suddenly realised everyone else was being super cool and going travelling in reading week. I don’t like being the odd one out so we decided last Tuesday to go to St Petersburg and to depart two days later. After a mad run to the train station, a 2 hour long queue and a very difficult Russian conversation we were the proud owners of train tickets. Next was an internet stop and we had booked a hostel. We were ready.
On Thursday evening we left Moscow at 8pm and realised that the train tickets we had booked were clearly the last rubbish ones left. Basically in the cheap section of a Russian train there are corridors full of beds – 6 in little compartments and then 2 facing them. We had managed to book the top bunk of 3 beds in a row… so were nowhere near each other AND had to figure out how exactly to get onto the top bunk (we’re in Russia, of course there isn’t a ladder). As we were the first stop on the train we just decided to steal all the bottom bunks and hope that no-one else got on. So obviously at 1am we were rudely awakened by some HUGE men asking us to get out of their beds. Oops. But here is where I got mad. It is polite on these trains for men to sacrifice their bed if they have the bottom bunk for any women who have been stuck with the top bunk. But they didn’t which annoyed me. If I am going to live in a patriarchy I want to take advantage of it!!!!! Apparently it is only a patriarchy here when it pleases the men (obviously). I’ve gotten used to having doors opened for me, my bag carried for me and just being treated more like a girl than I am by boys in the UK. Maybe it’s bad that I now get annoyed when men do not treat me like a woman? Patriarchy vs Independent women-ness. Not sure which is my favourite yet. ANYWAY. Rant over. So I actually managed (very unattractively) to launch myself into the top bunk. Probably my proudest moment of the whole trip.
We arrived in St Pete at 5am. Nice. The metro doesn’t open till 6am so we went and drank coffee then got the metro and managed to locate the hostel. When we saw our hostel our first thought was. ‘Oh crap.’ It didn’t appear to have any windows… they were all burnt out. But there was a corner of it that was painted pink and did have a few windows still in place. We went in that door and sure enough it was the hostel. Inside was quite nice to be fair. And the beds were comfy. Bonus.
My two friends went off to the tennis (they had come to St Pete purely to watch a tennis tournament. Losers) and I went exploring. I’ve been to St Pete before so I just wandered along the canals and went to see all my favourite places: St Issacs, Kazan Catherdral and The Church of the Spilt Blood. Then I met my friend Greg who is living in St Pete this term. He showed me his school and where he lives. It was nice to see his life there.
The next day me and Greg went to the Winter Palace. I think this is one of my favourite places in the world. Last time I went I was blown away by its beauty. Outside there are people that dress up as the old Tsars and charge tourists to take pictures of them. One of them came up and started dancing with me whilst shouting at Greg to give him 100 rubles (£2) to take a photo. I just told Greg not to take a photo and ran away. I’m not paying £2 to take a photo on MY camera (cheap Yorkshire roots coming through. My dad will be proud.) After I had taken about 2 billion pictures of the Winter Palace we went to get dinner and went out to a super cool club where they celebrate New Years Eve every night. S Novom Godom everyone.
Our final day in St Pete was just spent in cafes chatting and chillaxing before the train journey of doom home. We had a bottom bunk on the way back though so no unattractive launching was necessary. I love St Pete but the weekend there made me realised how glad I am that I chose to stay in Moscow for the whole year. St Pete is beautiful but I think I will always see it as a holiday destination, not somewhere to live. And the Moscow metro is superior to the Pete one by a mile (both in amazing-ness and size).
The next day we met up with some friends from Birmingham who are living in Yaroslavl this term. It was nice to show them around Moscow – although it made me realise I am the worst tour guide ever. I think my moment of glory was ‘There’s a statue of a man. Dunno who it is though.’ Genius. Should probably explore more of Moscow. Was nice to see my friends though.
And finally. Probably the best moment of reading week/Moscow/my life so far. Me and Anabelle went to see BEYONCE.
We were a bit excited. We had good seats but we got a bit annoyed because all the Russians sat around us were clapping politely like they were at tennis or something. No-one was getting up and dancing! We wanted to dance! There was loads of room left in the standing area so we decided to just ask if we could go in there (something that I’ve learnt from Russia is that everything is negotiable – less possible in the UK I think, although maybe I’m just scared of asking there) So we went and asked the woman on the door if we could go into the standing area. She said no. We said please. She said it was a bad view. So I screamed ‘Please! I just want to dance! I don’t care! Please just let me dance!’ in Russian. Badly. She could clearly tell we weren’t Russian. I think she thought that we had flown all the way there just for the concert so she said ‘OK, come with me’ and proceeded to bribe the man giving out the standing wristbands to give us some! Amazing! Me and Anabelle then ran screaming across the stadium and burst into the standing area, dancing our way to the front. Never have I been so excited! We got so close to Queen B. I love her. I want to be her. Forget Russian. I think my calling in life is to be Beyonce.