Thursday, November 16, 2006

From Russia With Love

Last night in Prague! Greg, me & Laurie (kindly ignore the el doublo)

Sonj, me & Laurie

Me & Carolyn

Me & the Gregster - ah the bags, the shiny nose, how hot am I?

Me, Greg, and an oddly prim-and-proper looking Sonj

After seeing this photo, I made the incredibly tactless remark that I look like a Holocaust victim. Which drew the obvious riposte - "Yes, you often see Holocaust victims riding giant dogs!" To rephrase - I look like I haven't slept in a week. To be more accurate, I look like I've slept on the floor for two weeks and had a boozy evening at Radost the night before.

Greg follows the life rule: Always BYO straw

Me, Carolyn and our delicious bowls of alcohol

Look at all those dazzling pools of neon (ranch - is it sad I still remember that quote? Ha ha)

Me, Grace, and a disturbed-looking Greg. PS take your scarf off!

Aw, pretty!

If I didn't know better, I'd say Scotty had been smoking something...

Gracie puts the moves on the Gregster (who looks pretty unimpressed!)

Daniel, Me, Scotty - boy sandwich!

Scott, Laruie and one of our erstwhile students, little Daniel

There's some cool cats for you...

Me & Laurie on the incredibly smoky (well dry-icey) dancefloor

Ha! I look like I'm trying to seduce someone's 12 year old brother (sorry Greg, but it's not your best photo)

Aw, don't Gracie and Al look sweet?

Me & Al, having stolen Gracie's hat

Me Scott & Grace at Radost

Me & Laurie pre-Radost

Thanks to mum for the post title.
Greetings from Moscow! I'm here safe and sound (mostly)...
But first I must recount how I escaped the claws of Little Mother Prague...
On Friday night a bunch of us went to Radost, which is becoming a bit of a Friday night institution. All the guidebooks and so forth on Prague describe Radost along the lines of 'where all the beautiful people hang out', so naturally we all fit right in... Plus we've devised a (mostly) foolproof system for sneaking in without paying the cover charge, oh yeah! Anyway, there were many drinks and much fun had by all who attended. Alasdair and I danced up a storm until he ditched me to go chase some tail (heh heh) grrrrr. For the second time in Prague I proved that I can converse reasonably well in French while incredibly drunk, go me!
Saturday my buddies and I went out for my farewell dinner, which was nice, even though the first-choice destination was full so we ended up at a pretty average Czech place. My Czech friend Kristyna came and gave me a little bottle of Slivovice, which (I think) is Czech cherry brandy??? Praguesters, help me out... And my lovely CELTA friends got me a new wallet (how did they ever know I needed one?) complete with hand-made 'rubles' inside, bless. We had a bit more of a quiet time on Saturday, I think everyone was pretty exhausted from the night before.
On Sunday I went around to Carolyn's in the afternoon and I practised for Russia by starting to drink vodka at 3 in the afternoon (don't ask me what Carolyn's excuse was). We got nicely toasted as various people dropped in and out of the apartment (Scotty and Alasdair excused themselves at one point to go see a live sex show... well, actually, they went to see a movie, the live sex show was an unexpected bonus. No, really...) and then once Carolyn 'retired for the evening' (read: passed out in bed) changed location to Sonja's and kept the party going until quite late, when it was time for me to dissolve into a puddle of tears on the tram home. Thanks to Gregory for making me laugh through those watermelon tears.
The next day it was up early and feeling just the tiniest bit seedy, to take the train to Berlin. It actually passed through quite pretty countryside, following the Vltava most of the way. Dresden looked pretty much as dreary as one might imagine, although things never tend to be at their best when viewed from the train, God knows Auckland's a prime example of that maxim. Anyway, arrived in Berlin to a miserable afternoon and a wee bit of trailing around with my suitcase in the rain. Some woman on crutches yelled at me on the bus to 'move my box' - okay, you try moving a 28 kg suitcase when there's nowhere to put the damn thing, I wasn't doing it on purpose, lady. Sooo, when I finally got to the hostel at about 4 pm I was in no mood for sightseeing, so I'm afraid to say I just went to bed (ah, bed, such a luxury after a couple of weeks on the floor - not that I'm not grateful for it) and didn't see any of Berlin at all. After I got back up, at about 10 pm, I went into the kitchen to make some instant goulash, got the kettle caught on the base as I was picking it up and proceeded to pour boiling water on my hand (what an Eastern European mishap - wounded in the pursuit of goulash). The next day, on the bus to the airport, I got yelled at again - "Nein! Nein! Nein!" for putting my coins in the inappropriate place. So, although I'm sure Berlin is a fine city, I can't say I had a single positive experience in my short stay there...
Got through the airport the next day with no further mishaps than having to pay 25 Euro extra for the above-mentioned 28-kg suitcase (I really didn't buy all that many things in Prague, all my books etc. were in my carry-on - it's a mystery how the extra 6 kgs or so accumulated). Going through passport control etc. in Moscow was actually far easier than in LA airport (take THAT, United Statesians) and I was picked up by a driver and a representative from the school (after fighting my way through hordes of men asking 'taxi, madame?' - why 'madame', I don't know). I was handed an envelope with a metro pass, a phone card with a few dollars on it and a 1500 ruble advance - which is not a lot of money, but it just about doubled my meagre store! Very impressed with the sweet setup so far. We battled through insane Moscow traffic for about 2 1/2 hours to get to the flat - driving past the Kremlin and St Basil's in the process, woohoo. On the motorway there was an open-backed truck full of soldiers, and people in the cars around were throwing packs of cigarettes to them. A Russian tradition? Or are they overwhelmed with patriotic fervour for the boys in khaki - I don't know.
We got to the flat eventually and surprised Melanie, my new flatmate from Arizona, who had thought she was going to be living alone (what a lovely treat for her to have me). She seems nice.

Anyway, the flat is pretty cool - two big bedrooms, a bathroom and a little kitchen. My room has a QUEEN sized bed, oh bliss! So if you Prague cats wanted to come visit me before (and let's face it, you know you did), how much more to you want to visit now that you know you get to sleep with me in the big-girl bed? There is also lots of wardrobe and drawer space, bedside tables, which I always like, a nice big armchair and a desk. Also a TV, which I can't get working, but we'll keep trying - I was looking at the Russian TV schedule yesterday and there's a daily diet of 'Top Gear' and 'Veronica Mars', along with such thrilling Russian shows as 'Profession: Journalist' and 'Detective Story'.
The flat is out in the wops (that is not a racist slur, Canadians and others, it means in the middle of nowhere) - relative to the city centre that is. It's only a short walk (through this snow-covered park/wood, which looks like something out of a Russian novel - just waiting for a wolf to spring out from behind a tree [not that sort of wolf, Carolyn], although I'm petrified of falling over on the ice) to the metro, but it's the last stop on what is definitely (like the yellow line in Prague) a 'ghetto line'- crappy trains, no electronic signs etc, but actually not as jerky as the yellow trains in Prague. Oh, and there are broken-down escalators everywhere, whoever made that prediction is correct.
Ahhh... running out of time to make it to day one 'orientation' as my real teaching life in Moscow begins (help me!). Plus you're probably all bored out of your mind by this post by now. I expect some comments from you all. xxxx

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha what's with you and chubby Russians? Remember, my mum & dad read the blog! Good to have you on board Sonja, miss you all!


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