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Showing posts from December, 2019

Happy New Year!!

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c Новым годом



Merry Christmas from Russia!

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BLESSINGS TO YOU THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS!
Painting "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerrit van Honthorst (1622) - public domain.

Repurposed Cathedral

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One of the most beautiful cathedrals in St. Petersburg was built for a different purpose than it is used now. Smolny Cathedral, near the banks of the Neva River, was built by Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, as part of a convent that she was going to live in.


When Elizabeth found out that she was disallowed for succession to her father's throne, she decided to build a convent to live out her life with other nuns. However, when her nephew was overthrown in a coup in 1741, she gave up the monastic idea and ascended to the throne as Empress of Russia.



 The large cathedral in the center of the convent wasn't finished until after Elizabeth's death in 1764. The buildings around the cathedral were used to house a girls' school instead of a convent after the Empress no longer needed it for herself. Currently, the buildings are part of the Saint Petersburg State University.



During Soviet rule, the cathedral sat empty and was allowed to decay. It has been restored, an…

I Just Can't Get Used to This

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I have to share my day with you to explain my topic this week. I had a meeting this morning at 9:30, so I was part of the morning rush hour here. First of all, I think that most people start work about 9:30 or 10:00 in Russia. That's when the metros and buses are the most crowded. There's no early morning for most workers - I don't think.

Anyway, I was part of the morning commute and left the house at 8:15. That's late by US standards, but this morning it was still as dark as 2 AM - as you can see by the photo on the left.

There were people scurrying on the sidewalks toward the metro station or toward their offices after riding the metro, so it was a normal commuting morning. The bus stop had the usual commuters also waiting for their bus, but total darkness. I waited at the stop until the arrival of my bus at 8:30 - still total darkness.



After a thirty minute ride (9:00), I exited the bus to find that a hint of light was appearing in the sky. I knew that the day would…

Russian Opera

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Now that I know I won't be living here much longer, I thought I'd better experience as much of Russia as possible. That's why I attended a Russian opera with my Russian talk group a couple weeks ago.


I'm not a huge opera fan, but it was well worth going just to see the building in which it was located. From the outside, it looks pretty much like 75% of all the buildings in our city. The theater has been located in the mansion of Baron von Derviz since 1998.




Even thought it wasn't very large, the opera hall itself was very ornate with gold and sculptures lining the walls. It gave the audience the feeling of high society. I tried to imagine what this room might have been when the building was the residence of the Baron.



Wide staircases and hallways added to the feeing of high Russian society, like so many of the other mansions I've visited in this historic city. It was beautiful to see.



But the most unique room met our eyes before we entered the opera hall itself…