Wednesday, June 26, 2013

морское лето здесь (the nautical summer is here)

Summer is officially here.

Obviously I posted pictures from the summer solstice the other day so you can look at those here instead of me reposting any of them.

However, summer means more than just passing the solstice although that certainly does officially make it happen. Summer is also celebrated by going on a river/canal cruise with my students. My upper-intermediate class decided that instead of a regular bar trip, we would do something a little more fun. Some suggestions included going to a lake or the Gulf and having a BBQ and swimming, but both of those proved more difficult than it was worth considering issues of everyone being able to easily get to one of those places and/or what the weather would be like and the possibility of overcrowding at the Gulf. As they wrestled with their ideas they decided to start the evening at the bar and then go on a canal cruise. It was a splendid evening with perfect weather. Not as many students came as we had originally hoped, but it was wonderful nonetheless. There were a few causalities that evening. The waitress spilled beer on one student at the bar, and the rocking of the waves caused a beer to spill on another student in the boat. We also had a nautical vocabulary lesson on the boat teaching such words as "wake," and "mooring."

So Friday was the longest day of the year, Saturday was a canal cruise, and Sunday was a fantastic day at the dacha. On Friday Daria's dad arrived from London to spend a week doing repairs at the Gorkovskoe dacha. He and the grandparents went out on Saturday and on Sunday Daria and I joined them. I am supposed to help do some of the repairs, but it was too soon to organize and so basically it was a day of assessment on what needed to be done.

Assessing the situation did not preclude a couple trips to the pond to swim (or nap on the beach as Daria did). I waded into the pond, but it was damn cold and I didn't go past my waist before coming back out. We returned to the house to read outside in a summer chair and try not to crush the strawberry plants (they were green so not quite ready for eating - although a few of the blueberries were ripe for the picking. Most of them were green, but we did get a handful to nibble on). Dad and grandparents returned to the city to get some things ordered from the store and to possibly use the internet to seek out necessary information. Daria and I remained and rode bikes out to lake. I can say summer is officially here because I had my first summer swim. At first it was also cold and I told myself that I wasn't going to swim out to the island. Then I dove in anyway and it wasn't as cold as it felt at first (makes me think the pond was warmer too - perhaps the cold was on the bottom, but the surface was warmer), so I swam to the island to continue my tradition of doing so every summer I'm here.

After we left the dacha on Sunday night (single day out there), Daria and I walked along the embankment of the Neva to try and watch Алые Паруса (click here to read about it), or Scarlet/Crimson Sails, a celebration for all the people who graduated this year (also start the summer).  The city closed a main bridge, there were fire lanterns floating up into the sky, and there was a concert and fireworks and a big hoo-ha. However, after we waited for about 45 minutes we learned the real celebration didn't start until 1am so we left missing out on most of the festivities. That was kinda sad since we did want to participate, but we couldn't stay out that late. I guess with the White Nights they needed things to be about as dark as they would get.

While it is fantastic that summer is here, not all things are wonderful. The mosquitos are terrible and with the heat we need to keep our window open, but we don't have a screen so we've been bit the past few nights. We bought some mosquito repellent that you plug into an outlet and that seems to be doing the trick, but . . . let's just say I have enough bites that it looks like I have hives. Speaking of heat, I bought some shorts yesterday and that made this morning's walk with Karma sooo much better. Poor Karma didn't want to climb the stairs when we returned and opted to lie on the cool ceramic floor in the entry way. I let that go on for about 2 minutes before nudging her up the stairs. It's supposed to cool down by the weekend and next week. I just hope it's enough. Normally the summer here is a pleasant cool temperature and my family is coming on July 5th. I'd hate for them to experience this extreme heat.

And a final comment about the shorts thing. While I was walking Karma I thought, wow, I must be getting old. Although I was wearing shorts I was wearing a short-sleeved button down and wore my dress shoes that I wear to work. It wasn't a bad look, but certainly not my punked out appearance that I'm used to. Thank goodness I still have the tattoos and piercings.

As for my title, I say the nautical summer is here because we had the wonderful cruise, I went swimming, and Sunday was the celebration of a ship with crimson sails.

The Crew (minus me as the photographer). From L to R we have Ksenia, Katya, Evgeny (Eugene), Alyona, and Tanya. We are awaiting the captain's permission to board the vessel.

And off we go.

A view of Peter and Paul's Fortress, but what I'm more specifically showing this picture for is the black line across the middle is something in the middle of the river set up for the Sunday celebrations. I don't know what it is, but my hunch says it's what shoots the fireworks.

We know how to party. Champagne, some green onion chips, pistachios, and a couple beers.

A wake almost knocked the bottles over and Katya saved the day by rescuing them.

Just enjoying the cruise sipping some champagne.

The boat behind me is the Aurora, a WWII vessel. However, according to Evgeny, this is a replica out to weather the elements while the original is protected somewhere.

Alyona rocks an old-school camera that still uses film. That's right. Film. Which meant in addition to nautical vocab, we had a brief moment discussion about dark rooms and developing film (but to be honest I forgot a lot of photographic vocab so I actually wasn't much help. It took me a few minutes to remember the word "develop").

If you can see this bridge in the shadows there are four horses all in the process of being tamed. This is Nevskiy Prospekt and it is the bridge from which I watched the ice grow and recede every day on the Fontanka. A truly magnificent bridge.

Another beautiful bridge. St. Petersburg is known for having thousands of bridges - some great some small - and if you can trust guidebooks I believe it claims to have the most bridges in the word, even more than Venice. I don't know the truth though. Not in a photograph, but we also went under the widest bridge in the city which spans something like 40 meters wide. It is called the Blue Bridge, nestled between the Red and the Green Bridges. However, it's not very beautiful and a photograph from under the bridge isn't very exciting.

We couldn't figure out if this was a shipyard or one of the ports, although we believe the former. It also provided some quick trivia about the Star Wars "elephants" being designed from the cranes in the Port of Oakland, CA.

Nothing in-particular. Just a nice photo.

The Marinskiy Theaters. The old, and the more special, is the green on one the left (the back faces the canal), and the modern on the right. There is a big discussion ( throughout the city and we had one on the boat) about whether the modern architecture belongs in the center of the city. It's fine architecture but does not fit the atmosphere of imperial baroque/neoclassical. It's quite a heated discussion among the city, although our boat seemed to be in agreement - a nice building, but not there.

However, this lego looking building is located not too far away.

This fascinating piece of architecture is a church. I know we learned which on the boat, but I don't remember now. It might be German or Danish or something.

And at the end of the trip. Thank you students for a wonderful evening.

Nevskiy on Saturday with the decorations for Sunday's Crimson Sails.

Daria relaxing at the lake. We do have access, but there is a chain-link fence on the hill and we must walk down a path a whole 8 meters to get to the water front.

Me at the lake. Don't ask what I was doing, I just didn't want to stand straight up and down.

A banner along the embankment.

Daria with Petropavlosk and Troitskiy Most (that's bridge) with lights on it. Normally lights do not stretch across the bridge. It was closed to traffic.

And me.

Almost impossible to see here, but just below the setting sun is a second ship. The ship on the left that is clearly visible normally stays moored in that location and is a restaurant and I believe a gym interestingly enough. However, the smaller ship in the middle of the photo and whose masts are the 4th and 5th from the left was there for the celebration and at 1am dropped its crimson sails.

May your summer be beautiful.

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