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How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Three

26 Aug

This summer feels like it just flew by.  It was a bit shorter than last year, but it was also significantly busier.  It was filled with travel and visitors, family and friends.  I have split this post into three parts in order to share photos.  This is the third of the three posts!

The third, and final, big event of the summer was a visit from Ben’s parents.  We spent a few days in Moscow, a week in St. Petersburg, and then a few more days in Moscow while they were here.  We managed to visit a TON of museums in both cities including the new Tretyakov State Gallery, the Armoury Chamber in the Kremlin, the Hermitage, the Trubetskoy and Alekseyevsky bastions and the Museum of Torture at the Peter and Paul FortressKunstkamera, the Zoological Museum, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Russian Museum of Ethnography.  We covered A LOT of ground in those two weeks and I’m so happy that they were willing to make the trip over here and were up for so much site-seeing.

We happened to have good timing when we were in St. Petersburg.  Ben had previously heard that there is a day when paratroopers gather in parks, get drunk, swim in fountains, and maybe start fights.  Turns out that day is August 2nd, VDV Day, the celebration of Russia’s Airborne Forces.  We were in St. Petersburg for this and saw the gathering, drinking, and swimming, but, fortunately, not the fighting.  This holiday was actually only a few days after Navy Day which was a huge celebration in St. Petersburg given its location on the water.  We saw more gathering and drinking, and a bit of fighting that day, but not as much swimming in the fountain.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part One

17 Aug

This summer feels like it just flew by.  It was a bit shorter than last year, but it was also significantly busier.  It was filled with travel and visitors, family and friends.  I have split this post into three parts in order to share photos.  This is the first of the three posts!

Like last year, I started my summer with a trip back to Florida.  It was a great two weeks spent eating, drinking, shopping, and relaxing with family and friends.  When I think about being so far away from my family during the year, I try to remember that being able to dedicate a full two weeks to vacation with them is one of the perks of living over here.

I did change my permanent residency in the States over to Florida during this trip.  I am now a licensed driver by the state of Florida.  Naturally, soon after I had that I signed up for a library card in my old county system.

One thing that my mom and I did this trip was to spend an afternoon at Vino Van Gogh painting owls and sipping wine.  It was so much fun and gave me a chance to paint for the first time in a few years.  Every time I sit down with a canvas I remember how much I love it and how much I have missed it.  I definitely would like to do this again.

It seems that I didn’t get all of the photos from my parents, but I don’t want to put this off any longer, so here are just a few photos from the trip.

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Moscow with H&K: The Metro

17 Feb

So. Many. Photos.   While this is definitely a good thing, it also means that it is going to take some time to sort through it all.  I have decided to share photos and stories from our vacation in pieces.  Hope you enjoy!

Without a doubt, one of my favorite things about living in Moscow is the metro.  It is easy to navigate, covers the majority of the city, and most of the time I do not have to wait more than two minutes for a train.  These are all of the practical reasons that I love the metro, but the added bonus is that most of the stations are beautiful.  Even the most boring stations have a significant amount of marble involved.

It can be easy to overlook these details when commuting.  There is so much hustle-and-bustle to get around  that I have been wanting to ride some of the lines from one end to the other, stopping at each station to appreciate them.  I mentioned this to Heather and Kevin, and since they wanted to see some of the stations as well, we decided to take the circle line around.  The pictures below come from the stations on this line, with the exception of the last three which are from the Mayakovskaya station on the green known.  This station was added in because it is considered one of the most beautiful and is one of the most famous in the world.

This post also marks the end of my vacation recap.  Sorry for stretching it out so long, there were just so many photos and so many adventures to share.  The good news is that I am wrapping this up just in time for our next vacation: Ben and I leave soon for Tallinn, Estonia!

Reminder: the photos are a mix of all of our photos, so big thanks to Ben, Heather, and Kevin for their contributions.  See below for the gallery!

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Moscow with H&K: Part One

6 Feb

So. Many. Photos.   While this is definitely a good thing, it also means that it is going to take some time to sort through it all.  I have decided to share photos and stories from our vacation in pieces.  Hope you enjoy!

As much fun as it was to explore St. Petersburg, I was so excited to show Heather and Kevin where we live.

These photos are from the first part of our time in Moscow, from 30 December to 2 January.  We spent our time exploring, eating, and lounging; finding plenty of time for all three.  Some of the highlights from these days were dinners at Taras Bulba and Khachapuri, drinks at Help Bar and Dolka Bar, a metro tour (this will have its own post), taking a midnight stroll on New Year’s Eve, and visiting the main collection at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

This post is overdue, so here are the photos!

Reminder: the photos are a mix of all of our photos, so big thanks to Ben, Heather, and Kevin for their contributions.  See below for the gallery!

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St. Petersburg: Part Three

27 Jan

So. Many. Photos.   While this is definitely a good thing, it also means that it is going to take some time to sort through it all.  I have decided to share photos and stories from our vacation in pieces.  Hope you enjoy!

After two crazy-busy days of tourism, we took a day off on Thursday to hang out and relax.  Our biggest accomplishment was braving the icy streets to go to the grocery store for some food.  It was a lovely day of family with feet up.

We were back at it on Friday, though.  We ventured out for brunch at Brooklyn Local Cafe. I was sold the moment I heard they actually had bagels.  Bagels are one of the things that I miss A LOT over here.  They made a good one, too.  Once we were fed, we visited the Russian Museum which is the largest depository of Russian fine art in St. Petersburg.

State Russian Museum

State Russian Museum

Since the Russian Museum is not quite as large as the Hermitage, we had time to walk around and explore a bit after.  We primarily wandered up and down Nevsky Prospekt, a main street in the city.  We were able to spend some more time looking at sites that we passed with our guide earlier as well.  This included walking around and taking a million photos of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.  It is certainly impressive and makes Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square look even more like a model at Disney than I originally thought.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

We had warm beverages at Cafe Singer in the Singer House, Kevin treated himself to a jersey at the Zenit store, we  marveled at the treats in the Kupetz Eliseyev Food Hall at the Eliseyev Emporium, enjoyed cocktails at the Grand Hotel Europe, and finished off the day with dinner at Van Der Wafel.

Saturday was our last day in St. Petersburg.  We planned a few last things, but spent much of the day packing up and preparing to head to Moscow.  We had lunch at the Idiot restaurant and then walked to see the Bronze Horseman statue.

Bronze Horseman

Bronze Horseman

Earlier in the week we decided to take an overnight train back to Moscow and books our tickets.  Our transportation to the station was very late and as we rushed onto the platform we learned that the train we selected was one of the very few trains that does not leave from the station known as the Station Where Trains to Moscow Depart From.  Since trains leave so often, we were able to find four spots on one that left a few hours later.  We grabbed a table and some beers and waited it out.  We were not able to get one compartment for all four of us, but Heather and Kevin were together with another couple, as were Ben and I, and we were in compartments next to each other.  I fell asleep before the woman even checked our tickets and overall enjoyed the overnight train.  It was a little warm in the car and the other couple with Ben and I were not the best roomies, but I would definitely travel this way again.

And then we were in Moscow!

Reminder: the photos are a mix of all of our photos, so big thanks to Ben, Heather, and Kevin for their contributions.  See below for the gallery!

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St. Petersburg: Part One

11 Jan

So. Many. Photos.   While this is definitely a good thing, it also means that it is going to take some time to sort through them all.  I have decided to share photos and stories from our vacation in pieces.  Hope you enjoy!

Ben and I took a late afternoon train to St. Petersburg on Christmas Eve.  Trains leave from Moscow for St. Petersburg, and vice-versa, close to every few minutes.  The specific length of time varies, but most are approximately four or eight hours.  We selected one of the four hour departures that would arrive after Heather and Kevin, giving them a chance to settle everything with the rental flat and rest a bit.  After we got in, we chatted and enjoyed a nice holiday toast of Havana Club rum.  Why not celebrate being out of the States with something you cannot have in the States?

On the train to St. Petersburg

On the train to St. Petersburg

Christmas day was spent at the Hermitage.  We visited the collection housed in the Winter Palace, which is part of Palace Square.  We spent probably five hours there and still only saw about one-third of the collection.  Ben and I have been saving many of these museums and sites, anticipating having family and friends visit.  The Hermitage is one that we can easily visit again and not feel like we are seeing the same thing over and over.  Not only was the artwork itself amazing, but since it is housed in the Winter Palace, the rooms themselves are artwork, rich in history.

Inside the courtyard of the Winter Palace

Inside the courtyard of the Winter Palace

We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day and decided to find dinner on the walk back.  We ended up at Gogol and I don’t think we could have planned a better first dinner out in Russia.  Excellent food and atmosphere, with an English-friendly staff and menu.  Designed to be the flat of a writer in the 19th century, each room is themed.  We were seated in the Reception room.  We all enjoyed our soups and main courses, but the highlight was the vodka.  Heather tried to order the homemade spicy horseradish vodka only to be told it was not available.  A short time later another server came out to let her know that it was now available if she still wanted some.  At that point, we all ended up ordering it and not one of us regretted it.  Not my first horseradish vodka, and not even the only one of the vacation, but definitely the best I’ve had.

Reception Room at Gogol
(Photo from Restaurant’s Website)

We don’t have too many photos from these two days, but this is a pretty good place to stop for now.  The photos are a mix of all of our photos, so big thanks to Ben, Heather, and Kevin for their contributions.  See below for the gallery!

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Super Excited Post

17 Dec

This is pretty much just to share how excited I am that a week from today I will get to see my sister and brother-in-law in RUSSIA!  They are going to be our first guests and I cannot wait.  We will get to spend the holidays together and I expect to see more of Moscow while they are here than I have in the year and a half that we’ve lived here.  Plus, we are spending part of their visit in St. Peterburg and I have not been there yet.

We have talked about this trip since Ben accepted his job offer, but it’s hard to believe it is finally happening.  I am really looking forward to sharing this part of our lives with them.  I am also glad that they are crazy enough to visit during winter.  Last year I posted about how I expected the holidays to be very different, and they certainly were.  This year will be different also, but I am looking forward to having two more family members with us to celebrate.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love my family.  They are super supportive and loving and they go out of their way to do things for us.  For example, I can send an e-mail to my sister and my mom letting them know that if a peanut butter banana or smokehouse BBQ potato chip chocolate bar made it to Russia I wouldn’t complain and not only do they not make fun of me, but they actually check multiple stores for them!

So, except updates again soon with photos from our adventures.

Oh, and, in case you were wondering dear sister and brother-in-law, this morning was -19 degrees C (-2 degrees F) with a real-feel of -24 degrees C (-11 degrees F).  See you next week!

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