Posts Tagged ‘St.Petersburg’

The past week

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

St.Petersburg, November 12 2008 – Idea for a video piece

Today I went to the Kazan cathedral again, to try to locate a priest or something who speaks English. I figured I’d try to get an interview about the youth work in the orthodox church in Piter, for my little video project, and maybe also get permission to film inside the cathedral. (Which is strictly forbidden, but I thought maybe, since it’s for a church…) My host gave me a note in Russian, which explained what I wanted, and I took it to the cathedral. After a while, they found a priest who spoke a little French, but seeing as my active French vocabulary can fit on two lines, it didn’t do me much good. We managed as much, however, as establishing that an English speaking priest would be there in about two hours.

So I walked up Nevsky Prospekt, spent a couple of hours in the Hermitage (looking at art and old stuff, I might say something about that later), and returned to the Kazan cathedral. One block up the street I found a Lutheran church, that had a gathering later that night, so a plan started forming in my mind, making a little piece that could maybe compare the little lutheran church and it’s work with the big orthodox cathedral across the street.

When I got back to the cathedral, it had been about two and a half hours, but there was a mass at the time, so I waited till it was done, and then presented my little note again. It turned out that the guy who spoke English had NOT been taking part in the mass, and had left ten minutes earlier, while I’d been sitting in on the mass. I got contact with one of the priests, however, he might have been about my age. His wife spoke English, so he called her, I explained to her what I needed, and she in turn told him, who answered her, and she told me that there was an English speaking deacon, Father Georgy, who was the one who’d just been there. The priest got my number, and would ask Father Georgy to call me, so we could set up a meeting.

With that promise, I went across the street to the St.Petri lutheran church, and found the meeting they were having. There were a handful of people in the youth room upstairs in the church, and they were having Taizé prayer in both Russian and German. I joined in, and with my rather limited German managed to follow the program. After the prayer, they had tea and cookies, and they were very curious who this stranger was. The youth pastor there, Tatiana, told me about the congregation and their work there, and she and her colleague Elena agreed to tell me a bit about it on tape. Tatiana was also interested in getting in touch with my congregation back home,  and explore possibilities of further contact! She struck me as a genuinely enthusiastic person, with a burning desire to do new things to keep building the congregation, in other words a wonderful youth pastor! I will certainly pass on the contact info and wishes!

Unfortunately Father Georgy never called, so I’m not entirely sure what to do with the takes from St.Petri in St.Petersburg, but I will keep them, and see if I can find another way of using it.

St.Petersburg, November 13 – Guided by  my host

When I got home last night, I was home alone, because my host was in Uzbekistan. (She’s a flight attendant) She got back early in the morning, and went straight to bed. When I got up, I took a good long time, because my feet have become a little sore from all the walking, so I didn’t want to get right back out. In any case, I was waiting for a phonecall from Father Georgy.

Since Natalia’d had night shift, she had the day off, and we spent it together. She helped me get to a medical office so I could get my second dose of Hep B vaccine, and we went to look for the office of Privjet in St.Petersburg, in case they could register my visa. (It was the office of a partner of Privjet, and they couldn’t)
We had dinner at a restaurant, went home and brought some beers, and watched the movie Mongol.

Novgorod, November 14 2008 – Novgorod, founded by vikings

Today was YET ANOTHER late morning. It shouldn’t be that hard to adjust to a two hour time difference, should it? Anyway, I went to the bus station, bought a ticket for Novgorod, had to wait an hour for the next bus, and now I’m here.
My host Aleksej picked me up at the bus station, and took me home to where he lives with his family. They seem really nice, and they want to do everything for me, and Aleksej tries to make them relax… 🙂

Once again I’ve forgotten that it’s later than it feels, and I’m putting down my computer a little before 3 am…

CS’er on the move

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

(Wall-of-text-warning hereby issued)

I arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday. Unfortunately I lost my auntie on the way through immigration, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. Instead I was turned loose on the Russian society straight away… 😉
I arrived with directions to my nice couchsurfing host Natalia on my cell phone, and I managed really well. By the time I got here, I got to try a ride in an old, worn out minivan, find the Metro, change Metro trains and finally go by tram. I have no idea exactly how often the metro and the tram leaves, but I haven’t waited more than 3 minutes for either, even when I just lost the previous one!

When I got here, Natalia wasn’t home yet, but she had left the keys to her apartment with her neighbour(!) so I got in with the help of a really nice boy who spoke not a word of English.

By the time my host arrived, I’d found the local grocery shop and done some shopping, and that’s about it. She had another visitor with her as well, a friend and fellow Piter (that’s St.Petersburg) couchsurfer, Maria, whose apartment is being renovated. We had a nice chicken dinner with white wine, and talked for hours before going to bed.

St Peter and Paul Cathedral

Today I woke up late, had breakfast, took the tram and metro downtown, and walked around Piter the whole day. My feet are killing me right now, but it’s been really nice. I walked around the Petrograd side for a while, just looking at the architecture and life in general. I then went to the St Peter and Paul Fortress, and went inside the St Peter and Paul Cathedral. Then I walked to St.Isaak cathedral, where I met Natalia, and we went up on the Russian dinnercolonnade around the Cupola together. After a truly Russian meal of soup and cabbage rolls with buckwheat, I walked around a bit more, around the Nevsky Prospekt. I went by the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and got a view of the beautifully lit church at night. I walked through the Gostiny Dvor, (a shopping mall from 1750) saw the massive statue ofMe and Catherine II Catherine II in Ostrovskogo, the bell tower of the City Duma, and even managed to catch an orthodox mass in the Kazan Cathedral!

The Cathedral of the Icon of the Virgin of Kazan is very obviously strongly inspired by St Peter’s in Rome, although it’s a lot smaller. It even has the semi-circular colonnade in front! As I entered, I heard the chant of an orthodox priest, and as I approached the area where they held mass, I saw a small group of people standing there, turned towards the priest who was standing by a lectern, all making the sign of the cross at the mention of certain words in the chanted text. Soon a small choir, hidden on a balcony high up on the wall at the back, started singing replies to the priest, with beautiful harmonies.  After some time, another priest came around with the incense, before the mass continued. At the end, people gathered close to a priest that stood on the steps in front, and he said something that he had in handwriting on a piece of paper, possibly a sermon or an explanation of sorts. After that people started leaving, and a few came up to him and said a few words, then he put his hand on their heads and said something, before they kissed the air above his hand. I’m not sure whether it was a blessing or a forgiveness of sins, or what, but it looked like a very nice, personal and informal ritual. I didn’t understand anything that was said throughout the mass, with the exception of the occasional “Bog” (God) “Gospodin” (Lord) and “pomolimo” (pray) but I stood there with the others, making the sign of the cross and bowing in respect whenever they did. It felt nice to get out of the traffic and the noise and the stressed out crowds, and come into a holy place for an hour.

After the mass, I strolled along the Nevsky prospekt, up to the Palace Square, with the huge Alexander Column. I realized that I was quite far away from any Metro station, so I again crossed the Neva and actually went back to the same station I got off on earlier. Even though my feet were aching by then and I REALLY didn’t feel like walking anymore, I was lucky to get a beatiful view of the Hermitage and the rest of the waterfront by night from the Dvortsovy bridge across the river Neva, on the way to the station.

Natalia and Maria convinced me I should head down to Novgorod for a couple of days, on my way to Moscow, so I’m now trying to get someone there to host me on short notice… fingers crossed!

Alea iacta est

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Ceasar’s words when he crossed the Rubicon seem fitting at the moment. (Not that I am planning to go home with an army to make war on my own country, but now the die is definately cast. I am leaving for Russia in about an hour… This is written (but not posted, since I can’t be arsed to pay a fortune for a few minutes of internet access) at Oslo airport Gardermoen.


Filip came to the halloween party as a little bat

The last week has been really pleasant. I’ve been the monster underneath my godson Filip’s bed in Oslo! He’s almost three years old, and sleeps in a bed about 150 cm off the floor. I arrived the first night after he’d fallen asleep, but he was watching as his mom made the bed for me. He wondered why she was doing it, but her explanations only made him reply “I don’t understand!” As I entered the room to go to bed, I heard him stir in the dark, and when was under the sheets, he apparently woke up. After being quiet for a while, he said “Hello?” *long pause* “Mommy?” *another pause* “Daddy?” I figured I had to make my presence known, so I got up, turned on his nightlight and said “It’s me, Gjerulf, just go back to sleep, we’ll talk tomorrow.” I figured he’d be scared and cry for his parents, but instead he just said “Oh, OK.” and went back to sleep…

Like I said, it’s been pleasant. The day after I arrived we went to a halloween party where all the kids and most of the grown ups were dressed up, I went out to pick up my passport one day, another day I had dinner with a friend, and on Friday we went to a party, and yesterday we all had dinner at Beate’s parents’ house. Mostly, though, I’ve just been staying home relaxing and charging my batteries for when I leave. My cousin Gaute has just gotten the game Fallout 3, so we’ve been playing that, and having a good time.

Yesterday I charged computer, cell phone and camera, packed my bags, and basically got ready. I was on the phone till the wee hours of the morning, and then got up early, so I’ve had like four hours and a little of sleep. My flight was supposed to start boarding an hour ago, but now they’ve finally opened the gate, so this’ll be it for now!

(Posted from St.Petersburg the next day)