Don’t worry, I made it back from St. Petersburg alive! I didn’t have internet in the apartment I was staying in there and I’ve never felt right doing blog stuff at work, so I was forced to take a break. After that I got sucked into a whirlwind of pre-holiday madness, but now it’s time to get back to posting.
What to say? My time in Russia went better than I expected. I was truly anxious about going there– how could I possibly manage in a place where I don’t speak the language and I can’t even read street signs? And people may not necessarily speak English? Plus two weeks seemed like a pretty long time! Of course I’d traveled to places where I don’t speak the language before, but with Russia it was different. It has this aura around it. It’s big, and a little scary.
But everything was great. The work I was doing there was interesting so the days flew by (and also left me exhausted). I can’t say enough good things about my colleagues there– everyone was so helpful and understanding of the fact that when it comes to Russia and the Russian language I know pretty much nothing. (However, there were a few times they forgot to clue me in– like nobody told me that most Estonians stock up on groceries before crossing over the border into Russia! Especially milk and half-and-half. Estonians seriously don’t like Russian milk. So I didn’t have much food with me when I arrived, but I didn’t mind that much– I like to shop in local stores when I travel anyway).
This trip also pushed me out of my comfort zone because I have very little experience traveling alone. I’ve almost always had someone else with me to help figure things out in a new place. This time it was just me and I wanted to make the most of my weekend there– no way would I allow myself to just hang out in my room. Going to museums by myself isn’t such a big deal, but sitting in a cafe or bar alone is something I’ve never been too comfortable with. But I did it.
There are a lot of bakeries in St. Petersburg with cases packed full of baked goods both sweet and savory, so by the end of my Saturday I knew I wanted to try something. I also knew that I’d have to ask for what I wanted, and the older ladies working in bakeries aren’t likely to speak English. But with some slow English and a lot of gestures, I got the job done.
I’ll share a few more foods and thoughts from my trip tomorrow, and after that I’ll get to those Restaurant Week posts I owe you!