Beginning May 1st, the Russians are on vacation. Most folks head out of town for several days to get some fresh air and relax. Natasha, a Rotarian from St Petersburg, invited us to her country house.
Many Russians have weekend houses called dacha (di-CHA). We drove about an hour outside of the city and arrived at Natasha’s rather nice set up. The main house sleeps 15. The guest house/billards room sleep another five. Corinne, Nibitu and I did some basic yoga in the windowed terrace. And then, there is the banya. I love banya. More on banya later.
Staying in our own apartment in St Petersburg, we’ve mostly been cooking at home or eating out with Rotarians. Going to dacha gave us the chance to experience full-on Russian hospitality and, holy Pete, I never need to eat again. There was food everywhere, all sorts, all the time. We had a giant breakfast (with more diary than anyone should eat in one sitting) then took a walk in the countryside before making pelmini. The walk was beautiful. It was really nice to be out in the sunshine and breathing in fresh air. The snow only melted completely about a week ago so the ground was still really soft and muddy. The woods were mostly birch trees so you can see quite far through the trees.
Natasha had five other guests up for the day, including several English speakers! Hooray! Hannah is originally from Philly and goes to UVM. She is doing a university exchange in St Petersburg as part of her international relations. She was super pumped to translate for us. Apparently she speaks entirely too much English with the other American students in her program. Liza, a high school exchange student from Brussels, didn’t speak a word of Russian when she arrived nine months ago. When we met her yesterday she was following the conversation and helping us understand the pelmini instructions.
The country was super relaxing and a nice break from all the walking we’ve been doing around St Petersburg. We’re taking an overnight train to Chereprevets tonight. New adventures await (and hopefully some sleep!).