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Showing posts from February, 2019

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue...

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Russians take their flowers seriously. After all, flower shops are open here 24 hours a day. I don't think I've ever seen a florist open 24/7 in the States. But, here you can purchase цветы at any time of the day or night.


They are so serious about reminding people to purchase flowers that a store near our bus stop has a lady standing outside - in ALL weather - announcing on a loud-speaker which flowers are for sale, or maybe why you should buy some. Of course, I don't know what she's saying, but I have heard the word "Роза" which means rose.


I asked myself why they would have these shops open 24/7. Of course, the first explanation that comes to mind is for the guilty husband, coming home late and needing a peace offering for his wife, who is sitting at home waiting for him.


After doing a little research, I found that, yes, flowers are a big part of Russian culture and are purchased for many reasons. When a visitor arrives on a train or plane, the relatives/…

A Steamy Story

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Well, this last week I survived a real Russian experience - a trip to a banya. Russians, like the Scandinavian countries, are known for their steam baths before jumping into icy waters. The thing that Russians add to the experience is the "venik" which is a bunch of birch twigs tied together, also referred to as a "broom."

Our International Women's Club of St. Petersburg decided that we wanted to have this Russian experience in real life, so we visited a banya in the city.

None of us had ever been to one before, so this was all new to us. We learned ahead of time that we were supposed to bring towels and a sheet. Most of us had to purchase a felt hat and the venik. The branches were supposed to improve circulation as you struck your back, legs, etc with the "broom." I learned that the felt hat was required so that the extreme heat wouldn't affect your head or ears. We voted on using the common room  - where everyone was naked together - so that we…

The Actual Fortress

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Last week I told you about our adventure around Peter and Paul Fortress, so this week I'll explain what is inside of the fortress. As I said, it was the first development of St. Petersburg by Peter the Great in the early 1700s. He built the fort to protect the fledgling city from any invaders. The fortress is built in the star formation with bastions on the corners.


Built on the north bank of the Neva River, the structure served as a base for the army in defense of the city. Later in the 1700s, it was used as a prison for political dissenters.


The main structure in the center of the fort is the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, built from 1712-1733.  This massive church on the fortress island houses the burial location of the Romanov dynasty. The spire, stretching 402 feet to the bell tower, is the tallest structure in the city center of St. Petersburg.




The magnificent Eastern Orthodox church is lined with gold especially by the altar. It is mind-boggling when you see the beauty of suc…

Ice Wonders of the World

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Since we live in Russia, I jumped at the chance to attend an ice sculpture festival. After all, wouldn't the Russians make the best ice sculptures in the world since they live here in this cold land? The Ice Sculpture Festival was taking place at the Peter and Paul Fortress, which we've been wanting to see for a long time. This fortress, located on Zayachy Island, is the first fortified location built by Peter the Great in his new city.

But, we were there to see the the ice sculptures on this cold January day. When we crossed over the bridge onto the island, we first encountered a sign pointing to the left with the words "Ice Fantasy" and an arrow. Of course, the rest of the words were in Russian which we couldn't read. So we started walking toward the left - outside the fortress walls. There were many other people walking along the fortress wall so we were convinced that this was where we had to go.

After turning one corner, we saw that the line of people contin…