The Christmas market in St Petersburg is located in Ploschad Ostrovskovo (Ostrovskovo Square) near Gostiny Dvor metro station, a park dominated by the gigantic statue of Catherine the Great. On my visit I chance upon a performance of Russian folk songs. Here is a short video that I took. I left dancing in the snow and singing along with them.
It started snowing heavier when I left the Church on Spilled Blood, a feeling of being incredibly amazed by something so beautiful still throbs in my heart. The lamp posts along Griboedova Kanal burned bright, making the snow-covered canal and its entire surrounding shimmer under the yellow light.
I started taking photo, wishing to capture this breath-taking scenery with my humble digital camera but the snow falling into its lens quickly melted, creating spots on my photos. I gave up after a while and put the camera away.
I thought the best and only way to remember this scenery is to feel it.
There was a young couple before me walking hand in hand in snow-covered pathway.
I heard him telling her, “You finally got your white Christmas,” and planted a quick kiss on her forehead.
My heart started to get warm as I watch the couple walking away, the shimmering lamp posts, the colorful lights on the towering buildings around Kanala Griboedova and the falling snow – making this moment all the more dreamy and magical.
I slowly walked towards Nevsky Prospect, taking my time to enjoy this rare moment of happiness. I started thinking about my life back home where I never dreamed of a white Christmas but got it anyway. I uttered a prayer of gratitude to my parents who raised me with so much love and inspired me to be proud and ambitious. If not for them, I would never have the chance to enjoy this beautiful life. I also thought of Robin, who never restricted me, even if my travels usually mean that we will be separated during special occasions like Christmas and anniversaries. And my co-workers who allowed me to leave my Herculean responsibilities on their shoulders for two weeks. Their love brought me to this place, a place that feels so much like home. Their hearts be blessed.
I felt my throat tightening and warm tears started rolling down my checks. Have you ever felt happiness so intense that the only way you can express it is by crying?
That was exactly how I felt while walking along Kanala Griboedova, my face buried in my snow-covered coat, my body so warm and my heart throbbing with happiness. It was almost perfect, if only my loves ones were with me.
Who are you?
This chart answers it for a Russian lady or man. They are their father’s son daughter and follows the lineage of their family which is descriptive of their family names. That’s why every Russian name ends with either ович евич овна евна, following their father’s name. Russian names does not have much variety because they are not allowed to use many foreign names.
Needless to say, they are also very family-oriented. In this modern times, a lot of Russian men still demands that their wives stays at home and take care of the family while they work and provide for them. Many Russians start to built a family at their 20’s unlike in West where marriage is unthinkable in this age (except of course for the strict religious). I am finding this strong family values very similar to the Philippines. Maybe that’s why I feel at home here.
I was already frustrated. I thought I could pull it off but in the end I was just actually walking around in circles. I faced a diverging street and took the one on the right leading to a well-lighted road. I was walking for at least half an hour and was already exhausted. I was not paying attention that the pavement under my feet is thick with slippery ice.
Suddenly I felt my body sway to the right, my right boots started slipping to the left and in a second it was dragging me to the ground. I tried to resist my fall but ended up hurting my arms and knees. I slumped on the ice for a whole two minutes, unable to find my bearings and wallowing in embarrassment in front of about 30 elementary students crossing the bridge on the left side of the street.
A few minutes, when I finally found my street, I almost fell again, this time on a small patch of ice on the sidewalk of Nevsky Prospect. I was very thankful that I did not because I could have hit my head and break my hips on the hard pavement.
When I got home I had a huge bruise on my knees but thankfully, no broken bones.
Winter in Saint Petersburg is tricky and dangerous for people who are not used to snow and ice. There are large icicles on the roofs which can fall any minute. Most of these areas are cordoned-off to prevent people from walking under it but you can never be sure. The pavements are very slippery and you really have to watch your steps. You can’t hurry here otherwise you will end up hurting yourself. It is essential to have a pair of boots that has a good profile or better yet, have spikes on the soles. I thought my boots were good enough but it failed on that one instance of inattentiveness.
I have boasted about my experiences ordering food from a restaurant and speaking a little bit of Russian with my speaking buddy but the story does not end there. What I did not tell you is how I was not able to follow the conversation after saying the first three sentences.
The problem of learning a new language, especially one that has a different alphabet, is not exactly how to read it or write but how to converse with it.
This afternoon while I was cooking, Angelo, my housemate and I were talking about how to effectively learn a new language. He has studied Russian for four months in Moscow and he continued it in Saint Petersburg and on his 6th month now. He is speaking very good Russian and sometimes I even hear him argue with somebody in Russian on the phone. I think that if you can already have a discussion/argument in another language, then you already have a good foundation.
“Well your way is very effective. I have heard that the best way to learn a new language is under the bed sheet,” . Angelo is dating a Russian girl.
“That’s true. If you have to learn the language, you have to sleep with it,” he said.
“Maybe I should get a Russian boyfriend. Too bad I am already married,” we both laughed and left each other to prepare our dinners.
I was jesting but at the back of my mind, I really need a Russian friend whom I can practice my lessons. No matter how you much you understand in a classroom, it would not develop if you don’t speak it on the street.
On the bus
I always take the bus going to the metro station. I cannot, for the life of me, walk for 20 minutes in the -20 degree weather when the bus goes every five minutes or so. One of the task is of course to get a ticket. For several days, I have survived with адин пожалуйста (one please) until one day the driver talked back to me.
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A working mom who run marathons, cooks, blogs and travels on weekends. Sharing #reallife stories.