Wednesday, April 10, 2013

bistro - from Russian soldiers to French cafe

I feel like I'm going to forget some important things, but alas I want to get this next post out.

First off, last Sunday the sermon was much better than Easter Sunday so that was nice (and a little redeeming for the Scottish priest who will be here the next two weeks as well). He also redeemed himself for his anti-Russia stance, but not entirely. Daria attended the Catholic service and I met up with her after (my coffee hour gets out about the same time her service did), and following the service there was an event in the basement for people suffering from various mental challenges/handicaps. They were selling various crafts that some of the people had done and one guy with a microphone was going around asking people questions and they were filming it. It was neat to see the service the church was doing for this community.

Saturday night we went to the Marinskiy Concert Hall (different than the main stage) to hear two soloists (one cello and one violin) who were accompanied by people from the Marinksiy Orchestra. We got these tickets because our friend Philip had them and sold them to us last minute. The concert was quite nice, but I was also impressed with the design of the hall. We encircled the concert pit so that there was pretty much good views from all around, even though there was clearly a "front." However, while my Russian has improved over the past few months I felt as though I understood less of this program than I did of the programs back in November. Either the other program was easier to grasp or I was more full of myself in comprehension or a little of both.

Friday Daria and I went to an indoor aquapark. There was an indoor tidal pool in which for about 5 minutes every hour they create large waves in the main pool. Quite exciting actually. There were various slides/innertube down a small "river" with "waterfalls" into the main pool. The coolest slide I'll describe like a toilet bowl because at the end you swirl around a big basin and then drop out a hole in the bottom into a pool but you cannot control how you fall so the first time I went head first and the second I came down on my side.

The other neat thing about the park is that people really didn't seem to care about body image. People wore bikinis without second hesitation (or so it seemed) and people had bellies hanging over the top of their trunks. Perhaps I'm wrong about what they felt on the inside, but their demeanor certainly said they weren't concerned about the image or being judged. I know many people are here, and it's certainly still popular to try and look like models, but that attitude seemed to not be at the park.

Fun fact that I learned is that the French word "bistro" comes from the Russian word "быстро" (quickly). Once upon a time when Russian soldiers were in France they wanted some food from some restaurants so they would ask for it to be made quickly. The pronunciation has changed slightly from the Russian to the French and now English variants, but a bistro is a cafe for fast food (-ish) because of Russian soldiers. I had noticed it was similar in sound a long time ago, but it wasn't until last week that I learned the official history.

So we officially have sunrise before 7am and sunset after 9pm here (and no daylight savings time) and even at 10 the dusk twilight is still very present. Sometimes it's nice, sometimes I want thicker curtains in the morning (although it is nice and beautiful at night). We had snowstorms both on Monday April 1st and on Monday April 8th (really good one a couple days ago), but the snow melts quickly with all the sun. Supposedly it'll snow the next few days. And the snow is quickly disappearing from the street sides where it's been all piled up. A place near here where I walk Karma there was once a snow berm between the sidewalk and the street that I swear a couple weeks ago was still at might knee if not higher and at its peak was 3/4ths the way up my thigh when I stood next to it. Yesterday it may have been 5 inches at max and about 3-4 average. The Fontanka is also clearing out quickly from the looks on my bus ride yesterday.

I do feel I'm missing something, but I wanted to get some post out.

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