A photo-essay with some annotations (Part I)

So I promised to run down some of the daily events that have happened since my last chronological entry. I don’t have time or inclination right now to do that in a fully narrative manner, so this post is going to be pretty heavily pictorial and I’ll augment that with a few explanatory captions and such to give some sense of flow from one image to the next.

Saturday, I rested and edited Maurice’s book, as already detailed.

On Sunday, I took it easy and ran some errands in the morning and early afternoon until about 3, when Miloje and I walked down to the Marsovo Pole (Fields of Mars), where the annual first-weekend picnic was being held. As was the case last year, it involved some sitting around in the grass chatting, some light and fairly clandestine vodka-sipping (thanks to the surprisingly sneaky Tanja), and the usual game of Frisbee, for which Russian students’ enthusiasm seems endless…

From the Field of Mars, two groups of us piled into cabs and made our way across the Troitsky Bridge back to Petrogradsky Island and right back to the same building (though not the same venue) where we heard Chernaya Rechka on Tuesday night. This time, we went to a rooftop bar with a stage, where a ska/funk/salsa group with the rather unlikely name of Markscheider Kunst was playing. John is apparently friends with the singer/guitarist, who he described as a “classic SPb lumbersexual,” a description that proved true when the band took the stage in the full sunlight of 8:30 p.m.

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About eight to ten faculty/staff and a few students made the trip and danced (yours truly included, by the way!) throughout the roughly two-hour high energy set that the band put out. Again, their audience clearly loved them and it was a really fun environment for a show up there among the seagulls and midnight sunbeams on the roof across from the Botanical Garden.

Xhercis and Nikolay showed their stuff, in public this time…

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…as did John…

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…and pretty much everyone else in the venue.

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Afterwards, there was a little hanging out in the odd little dugout we had claimed for NYI upon arriving…

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…before I went home at around 10:30 to get ready for Monday, which was, after all, a school day.

My fourth class-meeting generally went well, though as was the case last year, the second week seems to start with something of a lull. The adrenaline of the first week has worn off for most of the students by then and the immensity of their workload (coupled with the immensity of their exploration of the city) seems to catch up with them to some extent for the first couple of days of the second week, making Cog- and Cult-Fest on Wednesday not just fun, but a necessary recharge day.

Our faculty boat-ride around the city was scheduled for tonight. Actually, it had originally been scheduled for last Thursday, but a bad — and ultimately inaccurate — forecast scared us off that night in favor of this one. It had been pissing rain for much of the day until late afternoon, so it was nice to see the dry and clearing evening that greeted the three of us as Mitja, Miloje, and I (not necessarily in that order)…

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…headed out of the apartment for the walk down Kamennoostrovsky, across the Troitsky, and down the embankment towards the Hermitage, where the quai from which our boat would leave was docked. We grabbed a small bottle of vodka — “White Shark” brand…

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…which promised to be both “luxury” and “platinum” despite its 240 RUB price-tag — and some snacks to contribute to the collective hoard before getting to the boat. The sunset backlighting Peter and Paul Fortress that greeted us as we arrived at the dock was spectacular, and Masha joked that her slightly late arrival was due to her still working on getting the sunset arranged until the last minute (something I wouldn’t doubt in the least).

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We milled around on the embankment for a while…

…until it was time to board the little vessel Тартуга.

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As was the case last year, the boat went slowly down the Fontanka and around to the Moika, and we all gawked and chatted and stuffed our faces with various Russian junk-foods and wine, trying at the same time not to be decapitated by the bridges. Then, John arranged for a second leg of the trip, this time taking an entirely new (for me) path out into the main channel of the Neva…

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…past the soccer stadium to the top of Petrogradsky Island and back around past the television tower and the Blade-Runner-esque landscape of half-built condos, office buildings and hyper-modern bridges that has proliferated there.

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We finished up by passing the restored version of the cruiser Aurora, from which the symbolic first shot of the 1917 October Revolution was fired…

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…before heading back to our berth and calling it a night around 1:15 a.m. The three of us made it back to the Troitsky Bridge before it opened and got home around 2:00.

(I’ll stop here so all these loading photos don’t overload your browser. Part II follows soon.)




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