Life Aboard in Saint Petersburg
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Our Life in Saint Petersburg

We were in Saint Petersburg less than a week, but we managed to adapt a little to the lifestyle in Russia. Every day, we took the trolley-bus to town, and we shopped in the local supermarket and electronics shop just like everyone else. The spectacular summer weather was just icing on the cake.

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Our marina was behind this convention center on the outskirts of town. There wasn't a conference going on, and we were allowed (though we never did) to ask the night watchman to open the center for us at night if we needed to use the facilities (or, presumably, the ATM.) Having a convention center named after Lenin, though indirectly, seemed like a real statement about the futility of the Marxian dream. Last winter, the center removed all the floating docks, let the water freeze, and hosted an ice skating performance by Russia's top skaters for the benefit of an international economics conference.
It's a tradition for local brides to get wedding photographs in front of the most beautiful buildings in Saint Petersburg, a place where there is no shortage of beautiful backgrounds. We often saw two or three bridal parties vying for photo ops with the tourists. It didn't matter what day of the week it was, either. Photo courtesy JDH
You can't eat every meal out, even in Russia. In the open-air market, we noticed that Russians are fond of pickled vegetables, and that they pickle some foods that we'd never considered as pickles before. This display had pickled garlic root and pickled garlic sprouts, for example. And how about those pickled red tomatoes?
Stop sign
One of the special challenges about traveling in Russia is that people don't usually speak English as a second language as they do in most of the rest of Northern Europe. Furthermore, their alphabet isn't much like ours. In fact, it resembles the Greek alphabet. So we couldn't really talk to people, and we couldn't read a menu. But this sign was striking, because it simply says "stop." I'd have to guess that "stop" isn't really a Russian word at all, though.
Neighborhood Cafe
We ate lunch in a neighborhood cafe. Near the tourist attractions, it isn't hard to find someone who speaks English. But here at this place, we asked questions by pointing to them in a Russian phrase book, and we were rewarded with a real Russian meal, the way the locals do it.
During the summer, special performances of the ballet are held in the Hermitage Museum (the old Winter Palace) simply for the crowds of tourists who want to see the genuine Russian ballet. We attended a performance of Giselle. It's a silly story and the second half involves lots of dead people dancing, so it's not a literary masterpiece. But the dancing was magical, and we all left the theater wondering when we could see another ballet. Photo courtesy JDH