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Cristina’s travels TAC 2015 Team Pushkin

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
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Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 145 of 297
28 October 2014 at 10:26pm | IP Logged 

That moment when you turn to your Andalusian friend and ask " And how come I have a stronger Andalusian
accent than you do?" ...

The up side being that you still speak Spanish like you used to do. The down side being that you realize that
you should perhaps use a slightly more educated accent, but your gut says no, because it is so closely tied to
your past.

I have been a trip down memory lane the last week, both because I have been to Granada, where I spent my
wilder days, and because I took down from the loft two huge bags I had kept for when I had lost weight. I am
a pack rat. I am physically unable to throw away things I think I might need again. So among the clothes in
the bag I found the jacket I wore when I fell into a river in Bretagne from a canoe, and had to swim for a
couple of kilometers to the nearest place I could get out. I found the brown suit I wore when my Italian
boyfriend nr 1 took me out on our first real date, the burgundy and black silk and velvet dress I wore on the
New Year's Eve when I suddenly got a boyfriend which I had decided I was so not going to have, but which I
got due to a linguistic misunderstanding (speaking two different languages when neither understands the
other language very well can get you into BIG trouble) (Italian boyfriend nr 2) , and the white dress I wore
when Italian boyfriend nr 3 took me to meet his parents for the first time. I also found the red dress I wore to
my first party after my eldest daughter was born, and the blue dress I wore to the wedding where I first met
my Norwegian ex-boyfriend again after he had started to date my best friend (who promptly became my ex-
best friend). I wont't have to be on the brink of death to see my life pass review. I just did.

Going to Granada was both strange and wonderful and exhausting at the same time. Strange because after
30 years where the city had changed and my memories had faded, I struggled to recognize even the streets I
had gone through hundreds of times. Wonderful because I got to meet my Spanish mother and family, and
she was so happy to see me, we both cried, and even the family members I had not seen for 16 years treated
me like one of them, and because collapsing on my Spanish sister's couch it felt like home, even if I had
never been there, because she and her husband was there, and home is where they are. Exhausting,
because when my sisters are together they speak at the same time 80% of the time, and to follow a
simultaneous conversation between two women speaking Andalusian dialect at full native speed and at the
top of their voices while the TV is on in the background in regular Spanish - well it takes a bit of focus...

Fortunately I had some breaks in the shape of meet ups with our own Mrwarper (the Andalusian with less of
an Andalusian accent than I) who was kind enough to agree to speak Spanish with me, so that I could jog my
lesser used Spanish vocabulary. I also got to meet his lovely parents, (who also spoke with a less heavy
Andalusian accent than I) and who had the for me very un-Spanish custom of speaking just one at the time
AND listen to my answers. Shocking :-) Since they had both been teachers and were about my age, we had
a great time (though I fear that MrWarper's attention dropped slightly as his mother and I dived into the
detailed comparison between Norwegian and Spanish pension rights:-) The weather in Granada was lovely,
so before we met them we had a really long walk along the river which lasted until I suddenly realized that the
muscles of my right calf were really hurting (so I learned the Spanish word for that - 'gemelos'.) I really like
meeting people from the forum. The first time can be just slightly awkward, given that although you may know
quite a lot about each other, you have not actually met before, but since I had met Mrwarper before, we could
go straight to phase two: Laughing and joking and chatting happily about whichever topic which came up,
whether it was language related or not. And I am officially taking Spanish off the list of languages that I do not
need to do any maintenance on (which so far was a list of two- Spanish and English) and onto the list of
languages I need to maintain (so far a list of three - German, Italian and French). Russian is still in the
learning phase, and has not reached the maintenance level.

A real Spanish language bath did me good, though. Speaking with different people with different voices and
speech patterns is always useful. And so many memories came back - going out to discos and pubs,
traveling all over Spain alone (I so must have a guardian angel - I could have been killed 10 times over due to
some of the chances I took with my absolute belief that nobody would want to hurt me), people I loved,
people I disliked (a list of one) guys I dated, friends I went to parties with, and the stranger who one night
waited for me for 20 minutes in the dark at the middle of the night. I have never been so scared before or
after. The food I used to eat, the shops I used to go to - memory lane indeed.

And holding my Spanish mother in my arms - both of us knowing that with her 84 years and deteriorating
health, this could be the very last time we got to embrace each other.

And I finally got a definition of when you get old. It is when you stop being outraged and start being interested
when the duty free shop assistant offer you eye wrinkle cream :-)

6 persons have voted this message useful

Winner TAC 2012
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 Message 146 of 297
28 October 2014 at 10:53pm | IP Logged 
Good to hear the rest of your trip was as nice as the little while we spent chatting (except possibly the luggage bit). Welcome back.

About pensions et al, I knew the other side of the conversation by heart, so I thought I could afford to look through the window while listening to your answers, sorry! -- what I'm really sorry about (just kidding with that) was the amount of unclosed topics that were left hanging in mid air. Next time maybe ;)

Edited by mrwarper on 28 October 2014 at 10:55pm

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3736 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 147 of 297
29 October 2014 at 7:57pm | IP Logged 
mrwarper wrote:
Good to hear the rest of your trip was as nice as the little while we spent chatting
(except possibly the luggage bit). Welcome back.

About pensions et al, I knew the other side of the conversation by heart, so I thought I could afford to look
through the window while listening to your answers, sorry! -- what I'm really sorry about (just kidding with that)
was the amount of unclosed topics that were left hanging in mid air. Next time maybe ;)

Since you are the only forum member I have actually met three times I feel confident that we will get to close
those topics some other time :-)
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 Message 148 of 297
09 November 2014 at 7:00pm | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:

My overall favorite painting, the one I would have put on my wall, if I could, is not in any of the books, but it is of a nymph- like young woman sitting by the water. I'll have to find out more about it next time I come.

Maybe it was this one? Лунная ночь
1 person has voted this message useful

Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3736 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 149 of 297
09 November 2014 at 10:46pm | IP Logged 
espejismo wrote:
Solfrid Cristin wrote:

My overall favorite painting, the one I would have put on my wall, if I could, is not in any of the books, but it is
of a nymph- like young woman sitting by the water. I'll have to find out more about it next time I come.

Maybe it was this one? Лунная ночь

Yes it is!!! Thank you so much, you are an angel :-)
1 person has voted this message useful

Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3736 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 150 of 297
13 November 2014 at 8:34pm | IP Logged 


Ok. I know I am crazy. But I am back in Moscow :-) In the month which in my excellent guidebook is
described as the very worst in which to visit the city, November.

The thing is that I loved it so much when I was last here, and there were so many things I did not get to do,
that it felt like there was a physical string tugging at my heart and prompting me to go back, so when I had
managed to organise it so that my daughters would both be in Spain this week, I got a cat sitter, asked for a
week's holiday, and went running to the Russian visa centre to get a visa to come back here. Having to get a
visa is still on my hate list, but when I was greeted at the visa centre by a lovely smile, and the words" I
remember you, you are the one who speaks Russian so well", I almost melted :-) Sometimes I think the ability
to speak a language depends 50% on confidence, and after that confidence boost I chatted on happily to her
about my wonderful colleagues who were helping me to order tickets to plays by Chekhov, when she
suddenly started laughing. I assumed I had made some particularly gruesome mistake, but she said she
laughed because it was the first time she had heard a foreigner pronounce the name of Chekhov correctly.
When I came the next time to pick up the visa, I had forgotten the receipt for the passport and was afraid that
I would not get it back until I found it, but she just took one look at me, and went straight for my passport, and
wished me a good trip. I must admit that customer service at the new visa centre is fantastic :-)

Half way through the central railway station, where there the last few years have been a steep rise in pick
pockets, I suddenly realised that my hand bag was open, and that my wallet and passport was gone. To say I
panicked was an understatement. I knew I had no chance of getting a new passport and a new visa from
Friday at 12 to Monday at 12, so I thought all was lost, but nevertheless run back through the station in the
hope that I might have just lost it somewhere. And then suddenly I stopped, and checked my pockets - where
I found the passport and my wallet...

And how soon did I get my first compliment on my Russian? Before even landing - the flight attendant started.
I suspect the trick is in saying one or two understandable sentences, and then smile sweetly so they think you
have understood the answer :-) I took the train in from the airport and was quite impressed at the service. The
quality was as high, if not higher than on the airport express at home, (and this was second class - they had a
first class which was even better) and they had safety announcements in both English and Russian on board
which were really useful.

Unfortunately getting a taxi once I got out of the station was not so easy. I saw no sign or taxi line, it was dark
and I asked several people before a woman pointed me to one and said she thought it was free. It was, I sat
down, saw he had no taximeter, and just started a silent prayer that he would not take me around the entire
city or kidnap me. As it turned out he was very nice, originally from Georgia but bilingual, since he had come
to Moscow at the age of 13. I was so excited that we had the whole conversation in Russian that when he
said that I had an accent, I almost snorted. Three months ago I could hardly order a meal in a restaurant, so
of course I have an accent. I am just happy that I can make myself understood in a simple conversation :-)
We started to discuss politics, and he went from praising Putin at the beginning of the conversation to calling
him all the worst names under the sun at the end of it, mostly based on the events during the war in Georgia.
Whether this was an accurate representation of his feelings or what he thought I wanted to hear as a
Westerner I do not know, but I noticed with pleasure that just in the two months that have passed since I was
last here, it was easier to understand and speak. He overcharged me, of course, but the same thing
happened in Kiev and Belgrade, so I just figured this time I'd think of it as a paid Russian class :-)

I also managed to keep the conversation in Russian at the reception this time, even after they had seen my
name (yeah!) but unfortunately that led the receptionist to suddenly go into 100 km an hour, so I hope he did
not say anything important! And it was so lovely to come back to the hotel, and the familiar surroundings. I
fairly quickly had to go out shopping, because at home I had bought a nice, warm sweater for the next day's
excursion, only half registering that something was written on it. Only while unpacking, I realised that what
was written on it was "witch". Given that my colleagues had invited me to an excursion to a monastery the
next day, and that walking into a Russian Orthodox monastery with "witch" written all over my body did not
strike me as particularly appropriate, some emergency shopping was in order. I have almost stopped buying
souvenirs, and buy only thing I can use, so I figured a discrete jacket would be fine.   Unfortunately the only
shop I knew in the vicinity was GUM, and the first jacket I looked at, and which was lovely, cost 45.000
roubles, which is a tad outside my souvenir budget, but then I found Monsoon, which is one of my favourite
shops in the UK, and found one which I will be able to use many times, and which was also very nice and
more affordable. Still very happy that I was able to do the whole transaction in Russian. I badly need the
Russian for "just browsing' though.

I decided to have dinner at GUM. When I am in a foreign city I usually just skip dinner, I feel uncomfortable
going alone to a restaurant as a single woman. As such I keep in line with a Russian saying I was recently
taught: 'Eat your breakfast yourself, share your lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to the poor'.
However, I knew that at GUM they had a blini restaurant, and I am a sucker for blinis, and eating inside a
shopping centre is fine. I love the variety they have of blinis in Russia. This time I ordered one with bacon,
potatoes (or mashed potatoes as it turned out) and fried onion. It is a combination which would be
unthinkable in Norway, but it was good. Another thing I saw which looked so crazy that I just had to try it, was
hot honey beer with cranberries, and I became an instant fan. I normally drink alcohol about 5-10 times a
year ( I am the proverbial person who get tipsy just sniffing the cork) and beer possibly once a year, but that
hot honey beer was really, really good. In fact I am going to make sure I'll have it again before I leave. I have
never tried hot beer before. We drink hot wine with spices at Christmas in Norway, called "gløgg", but hot
beer, that is a new one. I am all for it, though :-)

GUM was lined with lights, so that the whole building looked like a fairy tale castle, and on the square in front
of the Bolshoi theatre the trees were dressed in blue and silver lights, which was incredibly beautiful. I can
imagine that it must be really beautiful here in winter, when it is all covered in snow.


Have I mentioned that my Russian colleagues are absolutely wonderful? They had invited me to an excursion
today, to a monastery outside of Moscow, which is still closed for restoration, but which they had obtained
permission to see since they had contacts within the monastery. And what can I say, when the head of the
monastery at the end of the private guiding you have just received, offers to personally baptise you so you
can become a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, I think that means that you have been perceived as
an attentive and interested visitor. Which indeed I was :-)

But let me go back to the beginning. I had been picked up by one of my colleagues, and after having picked
up the other one as well, we continued to a small museum which was a memorial to the place where Russian
troops stopped the invaders during the Second World War. It was only 30 km from the capital so it was quite
close. It was a very interesting museum, but I was very happy that my colleagues translated for me, because
I doubt that I would have understood more than 10 % in Russian. It had both maps which showed the position
of the troops, uniforms of the different parties, but also interiors of both partisan huts, and country and city
flats. Some of the items I recognised from home, like the most primitive wooden tools for washing and ironing

Of course you cannot visit a place like that without pondering over the horror which is war. I think the one
item which made the most impression was a letter from a soldier writing to each one of his many children,
and to his wife, and then just a few days later he was dead. I had to pull myself together not to start crying. I
have told my daughters that if ever Norway was attacked, I would expect them to do their duty and defend
their country, even if the pain of sending them into a war would break me in two. But more than anything, I
would wish for any sort of war anywhere to be avoided. Even though I am born way after the war, my life has
been affected by the hardships my parents went through during the war. Traumas they had were passed on,
and I have to focus not to pass them on to my children. A war is counted in years, but its consequences are
counted in generations.

We then continued to the monastery, where we were received by the head priest and shown around. I had
prepared myself by wearing a long dress, with long sleeves and no cleavage whatsoever and had brought a
scarf to cover my head with, and had checked with my colleagues that it was all right to ask questions. The
Monastery was called 'The New Jerusalem' and was built along the Istra river, at a place where it resembled
the river Jordan. It had been occupied by Nazi soldiers during the war, and he told us that they had burned
the icons to keep themselves warm in the freezing weather. I gasped in shock, but I guess if your life
depends on it, art has little value to you. Would I burn the Mona Lisa to keep my children from freezing to
death? Most probably.

I had always wondered about the onion cupolas, and whether they had any religious significance beyond the
decoration, and was told that they were a representation of a candle, and symbolised how our prayers went
straight to God. We were shown a number of elaborate and beautiful iconostasis, and the decorations in the
church were magnificent. They were in the Baroque style, and as such had a more Western look than I am
used to from Russian churches. I also found out about the Russian Orthodox cross, because most of the
ones I saw in the monastery was with two horizontal crossing lines on the top, and a diagonally crossing line
at the bottom, but they also had crosses which looked like what I am used to. The priest explained that the
original cross was the one I am used to, but that the one which is more common here includes an extra line,
which represents INRI (which is also included on some if the crosses I know and which stands for the Latin
inscription for Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews) and that the diagonal one was what Jesus had his feet on
during the crucifixion.

Towards the end I asked some more about differences between the Russian Orthodox faith and the Catholic
and Protestant faith with which I am more familiar, and I am not quite sure I actually got any wiser on that -
the differences still seem minute to me. As far as I am concerned a Christian is a Christian - regardless of
variant. He did however say that the Orthodox Church had no history of violence, no crusades, no burning of
witches, no Inquisition, but although I believe that is true is essence, I know that the Patriarch Nikon, who was
buried at this very place, was more than unkind to the Old Believers who refused to accept his changes in
the church. One of my favourite paintings from the Tretyakovskaya gallery is 'Boyarynya Morozova' by Vasily
Surikov depicting the prominent Old Believer Feodosia's arrest by the Nikonians in 1671. She holds two
fingers raised, thus showing the old way of making the Sign of the cross on oneself: with two fingers, rather
than with three.

The audio guide at the gallery said both she and her sister were tortured and basically left to die in a pit.
Other places I have read that they were sent to a convent, but even so, they were not treated kindly. The
priest said that when the Protestants split from the Catholic Church, it was a pity that they did not turn to the
Orthodox faith, which already was a contrast to some of the things in the Catholic Church that they were
protesting against. I assume the simple answer is that Luther did not set out to start a new religion, he just
wanted to remove what he saw as the worst excesses of the Catholic Church. Anyway I probably got a little
carried away asking questions and agreeing to a lot of the points he was making, and on a couple of
occasions waiving the translation and answering him with a few words in Russian, so suddenly he said: "Well
if you agree with me, I can baptise you if you like, so you can become a member of the Russian Orthodox
Church? If you stay a few days we can arrange it."

Now actually, I am impulsive enough that I might have said yes there and then, but given that I do not feel I
have enough faith to even be a full Protestant - which is without a doubt the best religion to have for someone
who is not really religious - becoming Russian Orthodox on a whim is something I have way too much respect
for religion to do. I thought it was incredibly sweet of him to offer though, and was very touched. And who
knows. One day I may come back and take him up on his offer.

After this we went for lunch, still at the monastery, and before the priest left us, I had a moment where I do
not think I have felt as clueless in my life. I registered out of the corner of my eye that my colleagues had
some sort of religious interaction with the priest while saying goodbye, but not wanting to impose on a private
moment, I did not want to stare. That was an incredibly stupid choice of me, because that meant that when
he came to me, I did not have the foggiest idea of what I was supposed to do. I had asked my colleagues
about how to put my fingers together in order to cross myself the right way, but it had not occurred to me to
ask about other specifics. I put my hands close to each other, which was the last thing I had seen them do,
before I looked away, and understanding my confusion, the priest took both my hands in his, arranged them
the right way, put his hands on top of mine, and raised them to my mouth so that I understood that I was
supposed to kiss them, which I of course then immediately did. I am so happy that I was taken to see the
monastery, and that instead of a regular guide we actually had the head priest who could answer all my
questions to show us around. Of course now I regret not having asked him a lot more questions, but it took
me a little while to get up my courage. In particular I would have loved to learn more about the concept of
iconostasis. I guess I'll just have to do some serious self studying. One of my colleagues was kind enough to
get me the book about the Monastery, so as soon as my Russian is up to speed I can probably read more
about it there.

We then had lunch, with local specialties made at the monastery. My favourites were their apple juice, and an
extremely tasty fishcake. I have tried that before and absolutely loved it. The trip home was spent discussing
everything from sleeping (or not sleeping:-) when you have a small baby, to my quote from a book I had on
Russia which said that Russian women treated their men extremely well because of the shortage of men in
Russia, (a statement which caused much amusement to my colleagues) and to railways. A great day, and
both my colleagues are so galant and sweet that I wish I could take them home to Norway and keep them :-)
Or at least have them give the typical Norwegian male a little crash course on how to treat women. I am
happy that I get to see them soon in Paris. It was actually really weird seeing them here in Moscow - since
Paris is where I have always seen them, though for them it was probably a lot more more weird seeing me in
Moscow :-).

This last meeting in Paris was by the way the second strangest I have had in my entire career. And I am not
referring to the content of the meeting, which was fairly uneventful. This is my work, so it is important to me
that it is a professional and neutral atmosphere. I have changed a bit since the last time, and got a lot of
compliments, which are of course always most welcome. A couple of the directors of the organisation made
me raise my eyebrows though. One of them put his hands around my waist and said 'Hi, Blondie'. I would
have liked to see him do that to my German colleague, he would have been a dead man before he hit the
ground. And this is the one which the girls who work at the organisation claim is the only one who is not a
MCP. Sigh. I did not even react, I was so surprised.

And it got worse. Another one first congratulated me on the baby (at my age? you have GOT to be kidding
me!) and then trying to cover up his mistake, he asked if I had met a new man, because I looked like I was
positively glowing with happiness. I have kept my separation very quiet, but at that point I explained that if
after having been unhappy for many years I was now happy, it was precisely because of the absence of a
man and not the presence of one. 'That is great news' he said, enthusiastically 'we must speak more of this
topic', but I was fortunately saved by the bell in the shape of his boss who wanted to speak to him. Never
been so happy to see his boss in my entire life. Of course if he had been a girl we could have bonded over
stories about my ex, but a director of the organisation I work with, who I hardly know, and who is a guy? I do
not think so.

However right before the meeting started he stopped me, took both my hands in his and said 'We must talk
more over lunch about the topic we discussed earlier, as this gives me hope for the future'. And then he goes
to sit down at the head table. It is not often that my jaw literally drops, but it did then, while my brain was
processing this and searching for alternative ways of interpreting that particular statement. I finally decided
that perhaps he was also in an unhappy marriage, and that it gave him hope to know that one could indeed
be happy after a divorce. And then 10 minutes later the same guy was handing out a handout about a small
race they want to arrange (people are supposed to run a certain number of times around the Eiffel Tower)
and as he came up to me, he put both his hands on my shoulders and whispered in French into my ear : 'You
are so beautiful that I would like to...' - and then I did not catch the rest of the sentence...

I am still counting on it being '...see you run in that race'. Actually I think I was so shocked that my brain went
into temporary malfunction. In the 23 years I have worked with this organisation, it has not happened a single
thing in that meeting room which I have thought of as odd. No touching, apart from normal greetings, no
direct flirting (there may have been a few good natured jokes and welcome compliments, but that's it). Those
meetings are so not the place for that. I am so happy that everyone was busy reading the handout and
nobody was looking at me, because the look of disbelief on my face must have been startling. What surprises
me the most, is that everyone seems to think that if a girl looks happy, it must be because of a man. Even my
Romanian colleague insisted that she could see that I was in love. I who get anxiety attacks of the mere
thought of entering into a new relationship after finally having gotten out of the one I was in. I was happy this
summer that I could even start to just look at a man again, but if anything more than a good friendship was on
the table, it would send me running for the hills. Though of course, for all I know, this may be just his way to
prepare for a good friendship. Frenchmen have very different ways than Norwegians...

So when the lunch came, I made sure I was nowhere near him, and kept a friend beside me at all times, so
he just greeted me in a neutral way. I am counting on my total lack of response being enough to make him
take the hint permanently. I would hate to have to turn up to these meetings with big ugly glasses, no make
up and my hair in a bun. Normally I am perfectly happy working in a male dominated environment, but some
times it is a royal pain in the neck.


I am two days into my stay, and already the busy schedule and the irregular eating makes me feel as
lightheaded as if I had been on drugs. I am quite literally dizzy. My very quiet home life, going to work, taking
the bus home, preparing dinner for the girls, is in such stark contrast with the days here that are filled to the
brim with activities, that I feel like my brain is on overdrive.

This morning I started with a guided tour of the city. Sometimes the other tourists can be as entertaining as
the guide, and between the two Chileans who were going to travel around the world, with whom I spoke
Spanish, the black Scottish girl who had lived in Mongolia in traditional gers in 26 degrees below zero going
from family to family on a horse, and who claimed Siberia, which she had visited afterwards was positively
warm in comparison, the Australians who were almost freezing to death, and the Israeli who turned up
without a jacket, and still managed to not be cold - they were quite a crowd. Not to mention one of the most
uncommon specimens of a Frenchman I have ever encountered. Blond,very polite, with the bluest eyes I
think I have ever seen on a man, and 8th generation cognac producer. Since he was a French speaker, the
guide quickly delegated him to me, so before the tour was over, I think I knew all there is to know about the
production and export of cognac. And had been assured I had no accent in French in the process :-)

Walking outside for two hours and a half in the fairly cool (though warm for the season) temperatures we
have, demanded preparation, but as a good little Norwegian I had put on several layers, so I was fine. The
guide told us about a Palestinian tourist she had had recently, who actually had to be hospitalised because
he froze so much he could not feel his feet. In 15 degrees. Plus. I could not stop laughing. 15 degrees is a
Norwegian summer's day. We saw the monument of Cyril and Methodius who created the Cyrillic alphabet (I
guess the name 'The Methodic alphabet' sounded too strange for words:-) , a small very beautiful church
where the guide claimed the KGB used to hide the bodies of the people they had tortured and killed, the Red
Square, the Vasiliev Cathedral and the Alexander gardens. We also got to see the changing of the guards in
front of the monument to the unknown soldier. And I have never seen men kick their legs so high up before.
Over 90 degrees. Truly impressive. She explained that they all had to look similar, between 182 and 185 cm,
and with regular, somewhat similar features, no moles, no scars, no protruding noses, so that they often
looked like twins. Fascinating. I have no idea whether we have the same rules for the guards of the
Norwegian king, but I intend to find out. I would imagine that the approximate height rules and the no scars
thing would apply at home too, but we simply do not have enough soldiers to chose from to get someone who
look similar.

After the guided tour I went to the armoury in Kremlin, and boy, do they have some treasures there. I saw
Fabergė eggs, beautiful silverware, arms all the way back to the Middle Ages, the throne of Ivan the Terrible,
and the most sumptuous carriages. I could have spent hours there, but again it was time to move on, as I had
an appointment at 4 o clock. Also my stomach was starting to grumble, and I suddenly realised that not only
had I been on my feet for 5 hours, I had not eaten for 7 hours, so as soon as I met my friend we went to get
something to eat. I tried out something called syrniki, which is a Russian specialty made out of ricotta cheese
and flour mainly, served with cherry sauce and sour cream and which was very tasty. Очень вкусно :-)

We then went to the Pushkin house museum at the Arbat street, which I must admit left me a bit
disappointed. There were some really good things about it, like some absolutely magnificent intarsia floors of
high quality and exquisite beauty, and some of the nicest most imaginative curtains I have ever seen, which
were replicas of the originals, and the furniture was very interesting and from the right period. A few pieces
had even been in the possession of Pushkin. However when I visit the museum of an author, I would be
interested in reading more about the author, his life, his works. In a language I can understand - and sadly
that is not quite yet Russian. If it had not been for my friend who explained a few things for me it would have
been an extremely frustrating experience. There was absolutely nothing in English there. When I visited the
Nabokov museum in St. Petersburg I came out feeling I had got under the skin of the author, and really
wanting to read his books. I still do want to read Pushkin, but not because of the museum. My friend gave me
an incentive though, by bringing me a book with a lot of the works of Pushkin, among others Evgenij Onegin
and Boris Godunov. I still feel totally confident that I won't end up doing what a friend of mine, who is an
expert on Russia and Ukraine, does when he gets drunk at parties: He recites poetry by Pushkin. The reason
why I feel so confident? I am unable to learn anything by heart, and I have never gotten drunk in my entire life

We then went down the Arbat street which is a very nice pedestrian area, and it is particularly nice to walk
down it with a Russian, who knows the area very well, and can give some background. Since this is one of
my polyglot friends, who I met at the polyglot conference in Belgrade in October, we kept switching between
Spanish, English, German and Russian (her other languages are Serbian, Finnish, Japanese and Hebrew, so
no can do there:-), and she gently corrected all my Russian grammar mistakes. I am a bit ashamed that I did
not dare to speak any Russian with my colleagues yesterday, with the exception of one full sentence and a
few random words, but speaking Russian with them is really hard for me. I do not want to bother them with all
my mistakes. With Tania it is different, we take turns. I correct her Spanish and English, she corrects my
Russian, and we both giggle at the mistakes we make in German.

Conversations with most Russians - regardless of language - is at a whole deeper level than with most other
peoples I know by the way. With Tania I had a 45 minutes' very interesting discussion on religion tonight,
which I could not imagine having with a Norwegian 20-something. When talking with one of my Russian
colleagues over breakfast in Paris the other day, we skipped the normal railway speak that everyone else
insists on doing for the first half hour, and went straight to the real issues. Life, death, war, family, Tolstoy,
Dostoevsky, finding religion through literature, the Church. And when I happened to bump into a 19 year old
film student three years ago in St. Petersburg I ended up discussing films and literature with him for two
hours and my husband and I spent the rest of the week together with him and his wife. Boring, Russians are
most certainly not.

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Super Polyglot
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
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 Message 151 of 297
13 November 2014 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
А ты что, почему нас не преудпреждила, что приехала в Москву? :D

Edited by tarvos on 13 November 2014 at 9:47pm

1 person has voted this message useful

Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
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Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 152 of 297
13 November 2014 at 9:51pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
А ты что, почему нас не преудпреждила, что приехала в Москву? :D

Why, would you have come :-)

1 person has voted this message useful

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