Things have been pretty crazy busy lately, getting back into the swing of things at work. But I do want to finish up my blogs about Russia before I forget how it all happened! It’s crazy to think that just a month ago I was packing up all my stuff and moving out of the flat. It seems so long ago, but at the same time I feel like it just happened.
So to continue with my Russia trip in St. Petersburg… (note: the next two days were some of the worst I’ve ever experienced due to the fact that I was still sick.)
June 14: I spent most of the day willing myself to feel better, which I didn’t. I was able to go and buy some tea (recommended by one of my friends from Belarus for these infections) and get some food and cranberry juice and water from the grocery store. I also got Cinnabon because there was one 3 minutes away from my hostel on Nevskii Prospekt and look at all the fucks I give. However, I finally decided that I was not feeling better and needed to go to the doctor. Again, note: one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I went to the EuroMed clinic, which has English-speaking doctors (thank god). Side note: on the trolleybus on the way there, my proudest Russian-language moment happened—a woman asked me how much the trolleybus trip cost, and I responded with the correct amount in rubles (25). That’s right, I used numbers in Russian in real life!!! To continue with the story of being sick: first I had to sit (and cry) in the lobby since they wouldn’t let me see the doctor until they worked out my insurance stuff. Unfortunately, the European coverage I had bought through Luther expired a week ago (it began 9/9/13 and ended 6/8/14 and this was written American, not European style because my life sucks) so I ended up having to pay $431 up front. Luckily all they did was a urine sample and blood test, and Dr. Andrei was a very nice man who held a cup of my pee in one hand and my hand in his other hand when I got my blood drawn and was crying and said I wanted my mom. I got a bunch of different prescriptions, paid my $431, and got to the apteka and bought all the stuff. I would love to say that my horrors were over, but one of the medications was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life.
June 15: Due to being in extreme and unbearable pain, I was up around 5:00am and met an angel named Yulia at reception, who hugged me as I was crying and gave me her water and sat me down and talked to me and did my laundry for free so I could have clean clothes and made me a bed on the couch in the hostel common room so I could sleep. Needless to say, I did not feel well enough to start doing tourist things, but I was able to walk to the grocery store and buy more cranberry juice (since I was chugging a carton a day). I took the painful medication for the last time this night, since as I was lying in my bed I realized that it hurt to cry, since my chin was slightly trembling and that hurt. So since I’m not masochistic I decided to be done and stop taking it since nothing that is supposed to make you feel better should put you in that much pain. In case anyone is reading this in horror, I would just like to say that the worst is over from this point on.
June 16: My amazing Yulia came in that morning with tons of different things and medicines for me, which worked and I felt significantly better. I knew I needed to take it easy, so I only planned on doing one thing: the Peter and Paul Fortress to see Nicky and family’s graves. I walked along the Neva past all the palaces and got onto the fortress, which is on an island. The fortress itself is free, but I got a ticket for the cathedral and prison. I saw Peter the Great’s creepy as fuck death mask, and then went to the cathedral. It was weird, since I felt like I had already been there, since I’ve watched the Romanov funeral (more than once…). It is a beautiful cathedral, with all the Romanov tsars buried there—Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nikolai I, Alexander I, II, and III (Alexander III and his wife, Marie Feodorovna have a beautiful grave), along with so many others. The Romanov family, my family, is buried in a separate chapel which is roped off. I could tell that they knew I was coming though, since there was a break in the tourist action just long enough for a nice Asian lady to take my picture there. I felt really calm, and I barely cried—I was just at peace. I have spent so much time waiting for this moment and dreaming of the day it would finally happen, and being able to finally be with my people, especially after having been so sick the past few days and feeling like I’d never make it, was incredible. To sum up the experience with my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
€. Now, ain’t nobody got money fo’ dat. Anyway, she was messing with the wrong person. I used all my favorite tricks (took tons of shit out of my backpack and instead put it in the pockets of my jackets and there was barely anything in my backpack now, put my purse in my “airport shopping” bag, threw out literally everything I didn’t need, had my shortalls on top just in case I would need to wear them on the plane, etc.) and then I finally get to the gate and this AirBaltic bitch is letting EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON WITH TWO ITEMS OF HAND BAGGAGE. Like seriously?! SERIOUSLY. Every single person in front of me had a purse/bag and a backpack/suitcase. Seriously. I had a quick flight to Riga, where I had a 3 hour layover (I spent 2 hours of it freaking out that the bus to switch terminals wouldn’t come and that I’d miss my next flight), and then had my flight to London. It was so beautiful, coming back home to England for one final day. Flying over the country I love most was incredible. I made it safely back through passport control (a country where people are nice!!! And chat with you! And are nice!) and to my friend’s flat where I got to finally shower and then repack all my stuff. Again.
I’m going to leave it off here for now, because this blog post is insanely long and I can’t really deal with it. I think I’ll do one more about my last day in London because it was just incredible and amazing and perfect.
I still can’t believe my trip to Russia happened. It was something I had been dreaming about for so long, a big part of my life. I faced so many setbacks, especially as a woman traveling alone. People said some pretty horrible things to me, things to try to scare me and convince me that I couldn’t follow my dream because I was a woman and women can’t go to Russia alone. (For the record, I would just like to say that Russia was the only country out of every country I visited this year where I was not catcalled or harassed on the street at all. Not once. I wish I could experience more cultures and places where I don’t repeatedly experience street harassment and sexism every time I walk outside the door. Anyway, moving on.) But, I knew that I was a good traveler, a safe traveler, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of street smarts and common sense that have made me a very confident solo traveler. I’m officially that girl who goes off to Russia by herself for two weeks, and I couldn’t be prouder. It was a trip for me to be with my people, who will forever be a part of my life. I’d just like to thank everyone who supported me and help make this dream possible! I couldn’t have done it without you and your encouragement. It means everything to me. Okay! Here are some pictures :)
|Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress|
|Finally at the Romanov graves :)|
|Inside the Hermitage!|
|Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood|
|Yusupov Palace Theater|
|Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo|
|Alix's Mauve Boudoir|
|My picture :)|