December 27, 2011

"little duke" by Rokotov

I am reading a book in Russian about Russian Empress Ekaterina the Great by a historian Olga Chaikovskaya. Looking on the Internet for the portret of of Ekaterina's son by the artist Rokotov (this portret is described in the book) I found another beautiful one - of the "little duke" Bobrinsky. What a wonderful portret! I can't take my eyes off this art work.

December 25, 2011

coffee when everything is closed

Christmas Day - everything is closed today. Nadia said that it makes her claustrophobic when grocery stores are closed... The only place that we found open was... Starbucks! Thanks, guys!

In Starbucks we feel like at home. When I learned that they didn't have Nadia's favorite pastry on display, I asked them "please go check in the fridge". The guy went "behind the scene" and sure enough came back with our pastry and a bit surprised that we know where things are and what they have in the fridge :)

December 22, 2011

Nadia and the Tree

Warm, rainy day, we went for a walk.
I took this picture of Nadia.
I like the way it came out.

December 19, 2011

My Parents

My Parents. My Mom and my Father.
I brought this picture with me from St Petersburg.
I look at it, and look, and look...

December 14, 2011

people learning English

My friend Stan is teaching English as a Second Language in a community college. His class had a graduation this month. Look what a colorful and joyful group of people from everywhere! :)

December 04, 2011

recycle in St Petersburg

What surprised me the most is that there is no recycling in St Petersburg. At all. In 8 million city! Paper, glass, metal cans - all go to trash (and then where - to Siberia?). I think they don't run any recycling program in Moscow either.


Today is the election day in Russia. The Party will win. I have discovered that the best time to travel to Russia is right before the election. The party will do anything (using government money?) to get your voice. Here is what people were getting from The Party - warm blankets, canned fish, cakes, chocolate, olive oil, trips to historical and holy places, tickets to the circus... Look at this street poster from the opposition. Zhirinovsky ("Zhirik") says: "Everything was taken from you except for your right to vote!"

December 03, 2011

Tikhvin Miracle Icon of Theotokos

This 600 year old Russian Icon disappeared from Tikhvin monastery in 1941 during the war. The Miracle Icon came back home to the newly reopened monastery in 2004 from... Chicago! The venerated, priceless old icon was given back to Russia by a Chicago resident of Russian descent who was more than aware of it's significance. I am very fortunate that I could visit the monastery for the first time during my short stay in St Petersburg, and lit the candle.

Monastery in Tikhvin

I went to Tikhvinsky Ouspensky Monastery 120 miles from St Petersburg. The monastery was closed in 1924 and reopened in 1995, now under restoration. This church is the place where the oldest Russian icon - Tikhvin Icon of Theotokos - resided for 600 years (!) and then disappeared. I made this picture from the bells tower.


Typical playground in St Petersburg in the north part of town with buildings made out of blocks. Government was trying to move people out of the city center offering free housing with 1-2 room apartments called "kvartira" ("quar-tee-rah"). I think this word was born from the word "quarter".

Old Believers Church

This is Old Believers Church in the center of St Petersburg. The Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms. My Grandma was an Old Believer, I kept her old metal cross. Most Old Believers moved to Siberia, some - to Alaska. I have visited their village in Alaska. These old arguments are still very important for Russians.

December 02, 2011

With my Mom. Piter, November 2011.

flight from Helsinki to New York

Here is our FinAir flight. Every seat has a screen with a lot of choices for TV shows, movies (about 25 titles I'd say), music and info. I watched two movies on my way back. The best feature is "Cabin view" when you can see on the screen what pilot can see from the cabin - sunset, night runway, airport from above - in real time (landing or taking off are especially cool!). Flight Information option is not for weak nerves with data like 'altitude 38000 feet', or 'temp outside - 65F', or 'head wind - 235 km/hr'.

December 01, 2011

back from Piter

I'm back from Piter.

It was a long flight from Helsinki to New York due to very strong winds - 9 hours (instead of expected 7). It was very enjoyable flight (FinAir).

My luggage will arrive one day later (sometime today :) Can't wait fot it to arrive - my new camel blanket in it, my Mom's gift for winter :)

Great to see some sunshine again!