I definitely had my l’Auberge Espagnole moment the other day when I was sitting around my kitchen table with borsch, vodka (which apparently Russians think of as a necessary accompaniment to certain foods, like borsch… kind of like the French think of wine), and tea with my Russian roommate Irina, my German-Russian roommate Natalie, a French master’s student studying translation, and two more French backpackers who had just hiked across Mongolia.
Irina made the borsch. Irina is a pretty fantastic lady. She not only puts up with my disastrous Russian, but often does so over some homemade edible or potable.
The place is on the Naberezhnaya Fontanka– the Fontanka river embankment. My mom has accused my room of being cell-like (thanks, Mom) owing to its narrowness, but I maintain that Skype just doesn’t show it’s best angles. And still room for any guests who might want to come visit!
I made a little reading nook on the window sill, but it’s too drafty now to really use it. Wouldn’t want to catch TB like one of the many Russian poetes maudits. (I wonder how you say that in Russian?)
It may not look out on a cathedral– Lyon spoiled me forever as far as accommodations abroad– but I like the river. There’s always something changing–boats going by, interesting umbrellas passing below, men working on the roof across the street– and you can always brood over the passage of time by the changes in the river, which is quickly icing over. Us moody poet-types never miss a chance to brood over the passage of time.
(I’m still going to try and avoid the TB, though.)
Needless to say, I don’t miss living on Vasilevsky. Not even the chinchilla. Living with people who don’t want you there is not an experience I don’t recommend, although my character definitely feels built. It teaches you to really not care when people are mad at you over stupid things, like getting some water on the floor or (UZHAS–horror!!) forgetting to take your shoes off before you enter the apartment.
Which is refreshing.
The new apartment has great atmosphere, and the neighborhood is interesting…a lot of Azerbaijani and other immigrants, and a big, cheap market that I will post about in more detail later. It does, unfortunately, take me quite a bit longer to get to work. But I’ll take the inconvenience.
I posted a picture of this view on a previous post. The blue dome, which you can see from my room, is the Trinity Cathedral. Since its construction in the 1750s, it has suffered World War lootings, closings, threats of demolition, at least one complete re-build, and recently, a big fire in 2006. I sort of accidentally found it one night when walking home from a different metro station, and it’s really monumental, in that Russian way that tries hard to impress (and succeeds). I’ll have to post the pictures at some point.
The apartment is between the river embankment and Sennaya street, where there is a big, lovely park. It reminds me of something from a Russian skazka. Click the first photo to scroll through!
I think it’s a pretty cozy home…I only wish I spent more time in it. After so much running around during the week, and with little incentive to go spend time outdoors, I’m bound to become a weekend homebody. I’ll leave the house when the river unfreezes.