| Pros: different country, beautiful and colourful buildings, detailed architecture, amazing place, full of paintings
St. Petersburg, Russia
Tuesday, Jul 12, 2005 22:39
Okay, I am sorry I haven’t written in so long. First the internet was down, then I got to Russia! So much has happened, so this is going to be super long, but I can’t post as many pictures anymore because we only got a little bit of free internet and it is 40 cents a minute. So you will just have to enjoy my words and look at my pictures when I get back.
So where to start…. I guess I will go back to the 4th of July. It was the first major thing that happened after Norway. The Captain and crew threw us an awesome bbq!!! There was real American food (meaning corn on the cob, bbq chicken, baked potatoes, potato salad) it was so great to have familiar food! They also had a dessert bar, which everyone attacked. It was loaded with cakes and ice cream. The little kids on the ship (all of the faculty and staff has their families on board the ship, so there are a lot of little kids running around) even put on a parade and went through the crowds of people. The most exciting part about the day was that they finally put water in the pool!
That night we had our cultural preport. I don’t know if I have explained what preport is, but we have two before each port that are mandatory for the whole ship to attend. Two days before we get to a country we have cultural preport, which is where our guests (usually one professor and one student) from the country tell us important things we should know about their culture before we get to their country. The night before we get there we have logistical preport which is where our staff along with the guests tell us general information about the country, like where to find a phone, what areas to stay away from, transportation information and things of that nature. Well that night we were at cultural preport when someone came over the intercom and announced a ‘code blue.’ We didn’t know what a code blue was, but it was the first time we had heard an announcement like that without it being a drill, so we knew something was up. About an hour after the meeting they announced that everyone had to go to the union for an announcement. They only make mandatory meetings for really important stuff, so we knew it couldn’t be good. When we got there the room was silent. There were about 600 people in the room and no one said a word. After a while the executive dean came into the room to announce the sad news that our captain had had a heart attack and had passed away. The entire room burst into tears. On the sea maritime law states that the captain has the ultimate authority of the ship. He basically becomes the president of the ship, determining all rules that will be put into place on the ship. Well anyone who would take that assignment aboard a vessel full of college students has to be one of the coolest people ever, which Captain Kritikos was. He was an amazing man. He would eat lunch with all of the students in the cafeteria even though he didn’t have to. He always had a smile on his face and he always made us laugh. The whole shipboard community was devastated when we got the news. After that the deans decided that the Captain would want life to continue as normal, so it did. Classes and all.
Two days later we arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia. Well after scaring us half to death about being robbed or attacked, it was much better than they made it sound. My first experience was getting of the ship and walking down the ramp from the gangway of the ship and hearing music. Then I looked outside to see a band playing traditional Russian music for us as we got off the ship. Our ship was docked right next to the Russian Naval Academy, a Portuguese navy ship, and a bar. It was quite for a ship full of college kids. I liked Russia a lot. All of the buildings remind of A Small World at Disney Land because they are super colorful with really detailed architecture. The best part was definitely going to a Russian home for tea. She cooked us Russian pancakes which were absolutely amazing!!! It was also really cool because we really got a chance to talk to her and ask her questions about living in Russia. I went to the Hermitage with my friends, which was Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace. It was the most amazing place I had ever been in. It was full of famous paintings. We would walk into a room and it would be just Picasso or Monet.
On our last real day in town Ryan and I walked the entire town through the not touristy area and it was amazing. We stopped for lunch at this restaurant that looked really gross on the outside, but was really nice on the inside. I had some chicken thing, which was fried with cheese on top and he had steak, which he said was good. Then I got an ice cream sundae, which I am pretty sure is the best I’ve ever had. It had fresh bananas and shaved chocolate on top, with wafer cookies filled with chocolate on the side. Guess how much it cost in US dollars?!.... it was 30 cents!!!! It was amazing. The whole lunch only cost $10.
I also went to see Romeo and Juliet in the Marinsky (I don’t remember how to spell it) theatre, which is one of the oldest in Russia. The ballet was really good, but it was very modern. It was kind of cool to see because it was so controversial to the Russians because it wasn’t classical ballet.
Other than that we didn’t do too much in Russia. There were some cool things that were very different. Their police is called the militia. They have booths next to the intersections where they control the traffic lights. Most of the people are very poor. They usually share an apartment with a few different families and each family gets their own room. Every person I asked said they want communism to come back because they had health care, jobs, and housing.
Russia was very different from the other countries for me because we weren’t supposed to go anywhere by ourselves, or even in groups of two. The metros are also one of the most unsafe places you can go. Because of that I didn’t get to do and see as much as I did in the other countries. A lot of people just hung out around the ship. Oh! The ship docked in the Neva River, which was cool because we were in a river. The only problem is that the side we docked on was the side with the island. The only thing that connected the island to the main land of St. Petersburg was these two bridges that went up between 1am and 5am. So unless you wanted to get stuck on the other side of the city (where everything was) until 5 am, you didn’t go out at night.
As far as life on the ship goes … we got a new captain, which no one has ever met. Everyone’s parents are here for the parent trip, which is really awkward. They go to class with their children and eat meals with us. It is obvious that their children aren’t enjoying it as much as they are. I might get to move out of my room. My RD is working on it for me. I have my midterm paper due for my religion class tomorrow and I just finished! We had our meeting today for the sea Olympics. The sea Olympics are one full day when we don’t have classes. It is a competition between hallways. There are like 20 competitions for balloon toss to synchronized swimming. The only event I am participating in is the scavenger hunt on the ship. It is a big deal to win, not only for pride, but the winning sea gets off the ship first in Ft. Lauderdale. Okay, I think I am going to go to bed for a little while because I am waking up super early this morning with my friends to watch us pull into Gdansk. Hopefully tomorrow I will be on my way to Krakow! We’ll see how our plan for no plan goes… it worked in Norway (even though they spoke English there). I will be sure to let you know how it goes! I miss and love you all!