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Recap – top three moments of my experience in Russia

14 April, 2020

Yesterday I spent the afternoon trying to put in place all flyers, tickets, playbills, maps etc., that I brought with me from Russia. Piles of names and places that occupied my luggage, my purse, and my backpack, because I wasn’t able to make everything fit into one folder. Like my mom always says, I don’t know what being organized means.

This declutter though allowed me to reflect on these last two months that I have spent in Russia. Between internship-related tasks and my language course, my days have always been filled with things to do, so I tried to take advantage of weekends to make the fullest out of them. In this blog post, I would like to do a recap of those moments, days and experiences that I enjoyed the most in these two months. Here are the top three moments of my experience in Russia!

  1. 1. Ballet

    I have always been enchanted by the beauty that dancers bring on stage when they perform. I admire them for their choice to devote their lives to this art, which requires an insane amount of practice and strength. I can only imagine what it is like to stay graceful, to put on a smiley face, while your body is defying the laws of physics and you are out of breath.
    Going to the ballet in Moscow or Saint Petersburg is certainly a must-to-do. For instance, during my experience in Russia, I went from not having watched a single live ballet to watching three of them. To be honest, the show at the Bolshoi is the one that blew me away the most. Inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet translates into dance the most famous and tragic love story in history. This ballet gave me shivers from its very beginning. The dancers were extremely expressive.  This, combined with the meticulously detailed sceneries and costumes and of course, Prokofiev’s music, made me feel transported back to that era. It felt as if the feelings of the characters were also mine.  Eventually, I couldn’t help but applaud for twenty minutes like all spectators were doing. My friends told me that applauding for more than twenty minutes after the show is over is a tradition that comes from Soviet times. Spectators keep clapping their hands even after the curtain’s down so that the two main dancers usually come out of backstages repeatedly to receive their applause.

The ceiling of the Novaya Szena

The ceiling of the Novaya Szena

The Bolshoi in these weeks of worldwide quarantine is broadcasting six different shows on its youtube channel (here’s the link to The Nutcracker). They can be watched on youtube for free.

PS: Many theatres all over the world are not only making some of their shows available to watch online for free, but they are also caring for all those dancers that can not take dance classes, as it would mean gathering all together. That is why they are sharing videos such as classic barre routines that can be done at home. If you are looking for a workout to do at home and are ballet fans like me, why not try this routine offered by the Dutch National Ballet?

2.Walking for a whole day in Saint Petersburg

One day, I was supposed to go on an excursion to Tsarskoe Selo, which was organized by the school. Unfortunately, I was late. So when I arrived at the meeting point, the group was already gone. I then decided to buy a map and I used it to walk through the city from Vitebsky Voksal to Vassilevskij Ostrov. I did not use Google Maps that day, to see how much it would take to get to Vasilevskij Ostrov. I checked it a few moments ago, and it says that from where I started walking to my destination, it takes one and a half hours. Let’s say I walked this distance in ten hours, but just because I stopped at every church, every interesting place I would find along my way. My first stop was the Trinity Cathedral and the near market, The Troitsky Rinok; then, on the other side of the Fontanka canal, I stopped by at a thrift shop, where I spent at least one hour without buying anything.

The Trinity Cathedral and part of Troitsky Rinok

I then ate Pel’menij at a Stolovaja (oh, how I miss them). After lunch, I headed to St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, and after a quick visit, I walked further and passed the Marinskij Theater and Theater Square. Later on, I saw people ice skating while walking on the embankment that faces New Holland Island. I went to the Island (my only purpose was to visit it, I can’t skate) and entered the Butylka, a huge building that used to be a prison, which now hosts shops, cafes, restaurants, and even dance schools. I believed I ended up in Hipster Heaven.

experience in Russia

After leaving New Holland Island, I walked towards the Annunciation Bridge, where I eventually spent 20 minutes taking pictures, although it was freaking cold. My last stop was the Uspenskaja Tserkov’ on Vasilevskij Island. I finally got home after spending the entire day walking, so I spent that Saturday evening chilling and watching a documentary about whales: what a wild 22 years old, uh?

experience in Russia

The view from Annunciation Bridge

3. Travelling by overnight train

During my second week in Saint Petersburg, I was invited by some friends to spend the weekend at their home in Moscow. I decided to go there by overnight train, which takes 8 hours to travel from Piter to Russia’s capital city. It was my first time sleeping on a train. I was alone, the people sharing the sleeper with me were all strangers. I have to be honest: I slept badly that night. But still, I felt like a real grown-up. It was like proving myself that I am brave enough. Ok, these words may lead you to the idea that travelling by overnight train is dangerous. But it is not like that. In this article, I explain why it is a safe travel option (when you use your head properly) and also give you advice on how to book your ride. And why you should really try it during your experience in Russia.

This was my top three! 
Let us know about the highlights of your experience in Russia! And if you want to know more about Russian culture, our blog is a never-ending source for information about Russian Culture.
Dreaming of visiting Russia but you struggle with the language? While you plan your future travel, you can use this free time (if you are reading this blog post under quarantine) to sign up for our online Russian courses, because you will need to know more words than just “до свидания” when you will be there!  

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Posted by Stefania Di Meglio

Stefania Di Meglio is Italian. She holds a bachelor degree in Language, Civilisation and the Science of Language. She is currently interning at Liden & Denz in Saint Petersburg.

One response to “Recap – top three moments of my experience in Russia”

  1. Avatar Suzanne says:

    Dear Stefania 🦋
    Thank you so much for your beautiful article on your stroll around Petersburg and most of all for your „routine“ link to the outstanding ballet training course❣️❣️❣️
    „Ballerina dances in the empty streets of Amsterdam“ is a beautiful video on YouTube – you might have watched it already …
    Thank you and bye bye 🕊 Suzanne

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