Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Russian Adventure 2012

My sister is awesome.  I have been so many places I would probably never go all because of her.  In high school, Kayley traveled during her summers to go on mission trips.  She has been to Jamaica several times, South Africa, Alaska, studied abroad in Japan and most recently- decided to work at a Russian orphanage.

When Kayley decided to go to St. Petersburg my overly generous Uncle Greg called to say that he would pay for our trip over to Russia if we wanted to go with.    Obviously we couldn't say no :)   So a few weeks ago we drove to KC to get on a flight from KC to Detroit, Detroit to Paris and Paris to St. Petersburg Russia.  

St. Petersburg is amazing.  Very surprising... beautiful, HUGE buildings that completely out-do any America architecture.    It was so fun to hang out with my sisters for a solid week, explore another country with Adam and experience what it is like to see Greg in a country where vodka is king.    Honestly, getting good pictures of the buildings was a challenge because they are HUGE. 

Before we get to the pictures, here is what I learned/experienced in Russia:

-  People don't smile there.  When you are out of a hospitality setting, people literally do not smile.  Russians smile when they care or sincerely like someone.  Therefore, they think Americans are "shallow" and look stupid because we all walk around smiling at people we dont know.    This also stems from when it was a communist country and people tried to stay to them self and not draw any attention their way. 

-  We experienced "white nights".  St. Petersburg is on the same latitude line as Anchorage, Alaska and for a few weeks every summer- the sun barely sets.  Pretty surreal.   Sun down about 1:30am and up at about 3am. 

- Russia is SUPER expensive.  There are more billionaires that live in Moscow than any other city in the world.  There is extreme rich and extreme poor.  Every car on the street was a Mercedes, Porche, BMW, etc.... even the taxi's in some cases.    Eating out, drinking, shopping, touring = lots of money spent.  Think of NYC, Paris and London prices on everything.  On top of that, Foreigners are typically charged more than Russian civilians for almost everything. 

- Hardly anyone speaks English.  I thought getting around in Japan was easier than Russia.  We walked away learning THREE words.  Da (yes) Niet (no) and Spaseeba (Thank you).  Their language is SO challenging to pick up.  

There was your Russia quick lesson... now onto the pictures!  

"White Nights"  At the top of The W, about 11:30pm

St. Isaac's Cathedral 

This is a real bear... drinking OJ out of a bottle.... it was a thirsty bear- we couldn't get a good pic

Remember the story of Anastasia?  This is her family.... 

The Church on Spilled Blood

The Heritage- Second to the Louvre in Paris