Other side of the world – part 1 – Russia

Well, for the first time I decided to write in English. As long as I’m living this experience “in English”, talking (or trying at least), listening and everything in English I think is better to write in English. I can translate later. =)

I’ll tell you in this post a little bit about my experience of travelling in Russia by myself.

But to start I need to be honest with you and tell you that regarding countries that I always wanted to go for a exchange, or to visit, Finland was never in my map. I just knew some things about the “aurora borealis” and just that. But Russia was in my map as a very far away ex-socialist country that fought against USA in Cold War.
When I started to think  about going to Russia I was so excited.  “Wow! So crazy! Go by  myself and see with my own eyes that old empire!” But since the begining some friends told me to be careful because everything is huge and very different from Finland. I was just thinking with myself: “Ok, these people don’t know how huge is the difference between Finland and Brazil!” And I tought that  nothing  could surprise me more than the “perfect system” in Finland that makes everything works so well. But yes, I was totally wrong.

Starting to buying the tickets going to Russia was a challenge. One of the buses driver didn’t want to take me to Russia. He was claiming that didn’t want problems in the border. The second bus driver was really nice and accept not just me but two colombian boys aswell) and after we cross twice the  border he stared at us and asked: “Oh, are you still here?”  hehehe

But okai, let’s start with my memoirs =P

This first part I wrote in St. Petesburg, in the train station, waiting for my train to Moscow.

I don’t know what I liked most about  St. Petesburg. But one thing I’m sure: Like in Jumanji   movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLyXEQPuLJo) I was  feeling that I was entering in one of the history books that I studied during school. Everything around me looked like hystorical, like with so many stories to tell.  I felt some dificulties with the language. In several places nobody could speak English (coffees, stores, metro, trains and museums) and I realize that probably the foreigners in Brazil should feel the same  taking in consideration that we don’t learn vey well english in schools.
Hermitage was beautiful and strange at the same time. I just arived from Finland (with no sleeps in the bus), spent some time in Coffee Houses and went straight to the museum. I was really tired. But when I finally found some Monet paintings my energy came back and I managed to walk around not as a zombie anymore. =)

After that I discovered a choir singing in a Shopping Mall and it was gorgeous to see the girls singing, even I didn’t understand a word.

Later on I met Maria, the girl that hosted me. I met her in Couchsurfing and she works in AIESEC in Saint Petesburg and we have a common friend in AIESEC in Helsinki.

We went home and I cooked pasta with white salsa and vegetables. We were talking for some time. She was telling me about her trips, about her job, about Russia…
During my sleep in her couch i had a very warm company! Her cat, Kesha. He came in the middle of night and slept on my feet. Delicious! After freezing all the day in the cold and windy Saint Petesburg a had a warm night with a handsome cat! =P

Starting the other day I went to Kazan Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Church  in Nevsky Prospekt, one big street that I explored a lot. =)

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They had a choir singing in the  church and I stayed there for some time listening and walking around. The place is really  big and everything is gold and shining.

Then I realize that I forgot the batery of my camera charging in Maria’s place. In the same moment I realize that I also realize that this could be a chance to enjoy my trip and record in my memory all the places, moments and people without worries about taking pictures. But, of course that I took some pictures with my cellphone. =P

After that I had lunch and I tasted Borsh, a typical russian soup with beet, meet, cabbage and potatoes served with sour cream. I forgot to ask without meet. =P Then I had the task to separate the meet of the rest. It  was really delicious and helped me to warm up.

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Then I went walking  around  Universitetskaya Embankment, a street in Vasilevsky Island, wich is bordered by the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva rivers.

I went to , a museum that was the palace built for the first governor of St. Petersburg and to Andreyevsky cathedral, very beautiful (but at this time I was already done with religious places!).

At 5 I met Maria and she showed me  where the Neva river meet the Baltic Sea, she also showed me the sphinxes in front of the Imperial Academy of Arts that were brought from Egypt to Russia in 1832 and she told me about a superstition regarding the lions beside the sphinxes. If you say your wish to the lion (very close to his ears) and pass the hand in his ears your wish will become true. Let’s wait and hope! =)

Then we went to Tepemok (http://teremok.ru/), a russian fast-food restaurant, and I tasted Buckwheat with mushrooms. It was delicious! I drunk home made beer, that is without alcohol and I have already tasted in Finland. Delicious too!

After some time talking (speacially about the education in Russia and Brasil) Maria went to her meeting and I went to the Train Station.  I stayed there waiting and finishing my embroidery. A towel that I decided to give to Domnita’s mother (my friend in Moldova).
It was a challenge to find my train because nobody could speak english and I didn’t understand where was my train. But anyway I managed to find the train and my place. My first time travelling in a train where you can lay down and sleep. New experience. =)

Coming back to my notes… (written in Central Bus Station – Kiev)
I really didn’t like Moscow. The city is too big for me, to much people, to much of no smiles.
I arrived very early, around 5:30 in a morning and I spent some time (1 hour, I think)  in a suspicious coffee place close to the train station. After half an hour lost I finally found the entrance of the  METPO (subway). For one hour and something I was just going  from one station to another. Some friends had told me that the stations  were really beautiful and this is totally true.
You don’t need to go to any art museum in Moscow, go to Metpo!
Important to say that I just decide to spend the morning like that because the boy from Couchsurfing that agreed to spend the day with me was busy during morning. And I didn’t want to freeze alone outside. =P

The most amazing thing that happened in Moscow was to meet Samir, a guy from Azerbaijan that was participating in Global.me project with me in Finland. But before I tell you this story let me tell you  about my aha-moment during the adventure in the subway.

In some point I decided that I want to choose where to go  and stop going to any station randomly. And I realized that it was impossible to reach any station if I don’t know each station I am now! Some people are asking me: “What are you going to do when you’ll arrive in Brazil?”  and I have some ideas, but in this exactly moment I decided that I really don’t  know where is my place in Brazil and maybe I need  to arrive there and feel and then make a decision… Living the here and now, entire and intense. \o/

Back to the subway… I liked the name of this station: Sretensky Bulvar. This is my goal: arrive there and go outside to see the weather and drink a coffee. That was exactly what I did. There I was, sited in a big woden table at Mc’Donalds drinking my coffee when somebody says:  “Sorry, is this place free.” My first impression: “Wow, someone speaking English!” Second impression: “I know this voice.” It was Samir! A friendly  face in that cold (and even rude, sometimes) city! =D I don’t believe in coincidences, there is something magical and mysterious that maybe can explain we meet each other without arranging in a city of 12 million people…

Then I said goodbye to Samir and went back to the subway, to meet the Couchsurfing guy.
My first impression of him was not very good: no shaking hands at least, no questions about how was my morning… he looked like in a hurry. We went to a coffee (that I had visited in  Saint Petersburg and I loved) and he asked some stuffs about how is it to live in a jungle in Brazil, seriously, he was not joking!
Then, he told me that needed to buy a car, close to where we were and invited me to go together.  “Ok, let’s go.” I was thinking: “He buys the car         and then we go out to see the city.” But, no! Meanwhile he said that there’s nothing to see in Moldova, that he doesn’t like Muslims  and also made a joke about CorelDraw after I say that this is the program that I use.  In one word: he is a jerk!

At this point I decided to use one principle that we have  in an Open Space: Free Feet!   I am free to go wherever I want.
Then I told him: Ok, you can buy your car and work at the same time. (Yes, because the girl in Mercedez Benz was filling the papers and he was working  in his laptop, in front of me! – wha part of my request: “Please, spend the day with me.” was not clear?) I went out to see the city by myself.

Then I manage to go to Red Square and it was amazing: red, cold and sun at the same time. Really beautiful! But once again I missed somebody to tell me about the buildings, the histories…    

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After that I manage to go to the train station Where I should  take the train to Kiev and this time I was fast (in Saint Petersburg I found my train 10 minutes before the departure) and 1 hour before the departure I was in my place. =)
But something really awful happened in the train. I was showing my passport to the guards to enter in the train and they were laughing and saying “Brasilia”. I just smiled back and entered in the train.  2 minutes later one of the guards came showed me the mattress and tried to hug me and kiss me. I just push him and said “Get out!” He was saying something in russian, but went away.
During the trip he came one more time and asked for my passport, he showed my passport to people around and laughed.
I was feeling so bad, not understanding anything around me…The guards in Ukraine  border was asking my name, how to pronounce and checking  some informations – and of, course, these things just happened with me – I think they were really surprised to have a brasilian entering in the country (specially by train)…

Arriving in Kiev was everything better! But I’ll tell you in another post.

Hope you enjoy!

Cla =D

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