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Cristina’s travels TAC 2015 Team Pushkin

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 33 of 297
10 April 2014 at 11:55pm | IP Logged 
@tarvos: Thanks for commenting :-) I am still waiting for a Swede to clarify.


So. I am in Turkey. I really like Turkey. I like the people, I like the food and normally the weather is really nice
too. Just now it is varied, to put it mildly, so I have practically lived in my woolen leotard with matching top
which I was smart enough to bring, but that is just a detail. I have a one week vacation without kids, which for
a mum is a double vacation. And every single moment of sun we get I strip down to my bikini, and am flat on
my back soaking up every ray of sunshine.

Linguistically it has been a tad disappointing. I was expecting large amount of noisy Russians that I could talk
to, but the Russians who are here are discreet, bordering on unnoticeable. Today when I had a sentence in
my Agatha Christie book in Russian which I could not make head or tail of, I decided to hunt down some
Russians to help me, but I was at the end of the beach before I heard anyone speak Russian. And even they
were speaking in such low voices that I had to actually eavesdrop before I knew it was Russian. Fortunately
they were of the very best kind, very friendly, very helpful and with no knowledge of English. They managed
to explain what the sentence meant, asked where I was from and complimented me on my excellent Russian.
Russians are the nicest people ever, but when assessing language skills they judge more from enthusiasm
than actual knowledge. The only thing I am really fluent at, is saying " My Russian is really bad". Anyway, I
left quickly in order not to impose on them, and later kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to speak
some more once I had them pinned down. They said I must come back if I had more questions, so perhaps
I'll take them up on that tomorrow which is my last day here. Instead of all the noisy Russians I was hoping to
find, there are some moderately noisy French and Swedes, but mostly people are Dutch, German and
English, and I have never been anywhere that has been this quiet. No disco music at the pool or the beach,
and just the occasional scream of joy from a kid. Perfect bliss.

I managed to buy a Turkish- Russian word list today, and I have done a ton of grammar and read about 110
pages in Russian, so the time is not completely wasted, but the long conversations I was hoping for have not
materialized. I spoke a little Russian with the Croatian tennis coach, and with the SPA attendant who was
Russian and really sweet, but that is it.

We have been extremely pleasantly surprised by the hotel though. We got an absolutely fantastic deal with all
inclusive, so we were fearing that the hotel would be ghastly and the food worse, but we got a 5-star hotel
with amazing food. I guess you have to be lucky sometimes. I am guessing that the fact that it is very early in
the season explains the good deal, but some of the others traveling with the same company were not so
lucky, and had not very pleasant hotels. The surroundings are fairly grim though. Having been to Cuba, rural
Ukraine, and rural Southern Spain during the reign of Franco, I have seen every shade of poverty, and that
does not scare me in any way. Filth and total disorder does. I have been to Turkey before, and neither the
rural areas nor Antalya gave me any negative vibes. On the contrary, I really enjoyed both. But outside the
hotel here even the male tourists are hesitant to go alone. I do not think I have ever seen such an ambiance
of neglect in my life.   

The people at the hotel are super nice though, but the contrast to the surrounding areas is mind boggling. We
read when we came here that the Turks count the Turkish kitchen as the third best in the world, after the
Italian and the Chinese. After having eaten here for almost a week I disagree. I would rate it as the second
kitchen in the world after the Italian. So much fresh vegetables, meat prepared in every possible way, and
enough baklava to ruin my waist line permanently. The only thing that really puzzled us, was a small, bright
orange carrot cake with a walnut on top. My sister took a look and said that she thought that it might be
marzipan and not carrot cake, so perhaps I should take both pieces. I could see that it was not marzipan, but
I took one bite, and told my sister : "Oh, it's carrot all right. There's just no cake!" It was an actual chunk of
carrot, boiled and garnished with the walnut. And the strangest part was that it was quite tasty. I have not
been so surprised since I was served spaghetti cake in Ukraine, where they had taken left over boiled
spaghetti, mixed inn egg, sugar and cinnamon and baked it in the oven as a cake. That was also really good.

I am sorry that I did not find the time to learn some Turkish before I came - I had planned to - because it
varies quite a lot how much English they speak. Some are quite good, some speak nothing at all, but they are
all so sweet that I do not mind. I do not know if this is how Turks behave normally, or whether this particular
hotel staff is exceptionally well trained, but I tend to go for the first explanation. We could have something to
learn from them when it comes to service. Norwegians are rarely this good.

I have been really focusing on Russian grammar while I have been here, for the learning based April
challenge, so I have almost ODd on the Russian case system. I knew I was on overload when I was reading
about the accusative adjectives, and had to say "sorry" in Norwegian because I accidentally hit my sister in
the ribs with my elbow, and without thinking declined the Norwegian word according to the adjectives in
accusative plural.

I have a lot of leeway with my languages before they think I have gone over to the dark side, but that
particular incident raised my sister's eyebrows.

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Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Joined 2959 days ago

941 posts - 1308 votes 
Speaks: Greek*, Ancient Greek*, EnglishC2
Studies: French, Russian, Turkish, Modern Hebrew

 Message 34 of 297
11 April 2014 at 8:25am | IP Logged 
What a lovely post, thank you for sharing with us :)

You went on a russian speakers safari! With a book instead of a rifle :D

As for the elbow incident, I am having these language dreams doctor. Is this the beginning of something I should be worried about? (Seriously, I saw I was on a boat with my husband, going to Israel to attend a 2 week ulpan). You are not alone!
If you do go over to the dark side you'll find many there already :D

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 35 of 297
11 April 2014 at 10:27am | IP Logged 
@ Renaissancemedi: I am happy that I will not be alone if I cross over. I fear that I may come closer and

I forgot to say, but do you know what the name of my hotel is? I am staying at the hotel Renaissance :-)
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3610 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 36 of 297
23 April 2014 at 12:32pm | IP Logged 
So we meet again at the original forum. Thanks for sharing your holiday adventure. You really surprised me about the search of silent Russians. :-D I guess there must be a % of silent Russians but they are usually well hidden behind the noisy Russians.

I think your daughter's reason concerning the mafia bosses is awesome!
Actually, a few american tv series are now promoting foreign languages quite well. Grimm: several protagonists speak French, German, Spanish and I think even Latin and Russian were there. Arrow: Chinese and Russian. So, these reasons for language study may be spreading in near future :-) And perhaps your daughter plans to become a mafia boss one day :-D Trully, Norway is a land of gender equality where girls aren't afraid to dream big.

If the conjugations/declinations and such grammar doesn't stick, perhaps you may find ankiing the models and common irregulaties helpful. It certainly helped me with conjugations in a few languages. It might help you make a leap forward. Just an idea...
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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 37 of 297
30 June 2014 at 12:21am | IP Logged 
I posted this on the Polydog forum during the outage. I guess it s time to post it here too :-)


Since HTLAL is wobbly right now, I'll post here, and glue it in my log there later. For those who do not know
me, my main focus is on Russian, where I am currently at an A2. I also try to maintain my other languages, of
which I speak three fairly well (English, French and Spanish) and two which I am struggling to keep up -
Italian and German - and then of course there is Swedish, which I have always considered to be a purely
passive language, but for which I got quite positive feed back when I used it in the multilingual YouTube

Anyway, I have been doing quite a lot of Russian over the last few weeks. I have done lots of work on the
cases and I have read about half an Agatha Christie. I love Agatha Christie, and the first book I usually read
in a new language will be an Agatha Christie. I have read it in 11 languages so far (Norwegian, Swedish,
Danish, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese and Russian). And for the record, I do
not speak all those languages

I also had an incredibly weird experience on Thursday. My sister let me listen to a tape which was recorded
of my family almost exactly 50 years ago. My contribution was negligible, as I was 14 months old, so it
consisted of variations over " loa-loa" and protesting noises. However I was extremely surprised to hear my
sister and my father use dialects I have never heard them use, because by the time I remember them
speaking, we had moved to another part of the country, and they had toned down/ changed their dialect, as
that was in the time where dialects were not quite as popular as they are today in Norway.

My father read some texts in English and French, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that his accent was
quite good. He had never been to England, yet he had managed to pick up a very good English accent, which
was actually quite impressive considering that he learned his accent in the 40ies, when tapes were far from
being as readily available as they are today. His intonation was occasionally a bit off, but other than that I
could not really catch him making any mistakes. His French was not quite as good, but having learned it
under similar circumstances (no immersion, probably no audio) it was still quite impressive. What was
absolutely amazing was his German pronunciation - which he had learned in the hardest way possible. After
studying German at the University of Oslo in 1943, he, together with a few hundred other students and
teachers from the university were shipped off to concentration camps in Germany, where they stayed until
they were freed in 1945, and taken home by the White Buses, organized by the Swedes. Not the most
conventional nor pleasant as immersion stays go, but highly effective. It was always a source of pride to me
when I was a kid and my parents spoke German to Germans, because generally their jaw would drop, since
my parents were both fluent, with only the slightest hint of an accent to betray that they were not native. We
spent several holidays in Germany, when I was a child, and it was where I took my first steps. My mother
never got tired of telling me stories of the kindness with which they were treated - probably precisely because
they spoke the language so well. At the same tape, recorded in the early 60ies, my father asked my mother
what she planned to use their shiny new toy, the tape recorder, for, and she answered that she was hoping to
find some tapes which would teach her French (which was a not so subtle hint to my father, as he was a
French teacher, with a master in French, yet he refused to teach her any). Anyway, it felt like opening a time
capsule, and I felt so much closer to my parents, who passed away three years ago.

The Super Challenge registration has started, and I have registered with Russian again. I was disappointed
about not succeeding last year, but between my very low level when I started out, and the -eventful - year I
had last year, I guess I should not beat myself up about it. Last year I was between A1 and A2 - now I am a
solid A2, which I hope is enough for me to complete the challenge, which in turn should push me into a B1. I
may add half challenges in Italian, German or French later on, as I saw what amazing results I got with my
French last time, even if I did not complete the challenge, but now in the start I will focus on Russian.

And please forgive any poor language as I write now. I was up until 4.30 in the morning, waiting for my
daughters to come home from their vacation, so with three hours of sleep under my vest, writing now is
probably the equivalent of the rambling you do when you are calling your ex-boyfriend when you are drunk.
Not a terribly good idea, normally
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Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3308 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 Message 38 of 297
30 June 2014 at 1:37pm | IP Logged 
Keep it all Russian, and soon the A will change into a B :)
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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3510 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 Message 39 of 297
30 June 2014 at 3:19pm | IP Logged 
That was a fascinating post. It is interesting that your father was a teacher of French,
with a master in French, and yet his French accent wasn't as good as his English or
1 person has voted this message useful

Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 40 of 297
20 July 2014 at 9:31am | IP Logged 
@Will do, Tarvos!

@ Jeffers: I think it is just a matter of exposure. I doubt that he spent much time in France.



You know how sometimes you plan something to be absolute perfect, and then it turns out horrible, and then
in the end things turn out great anyway? This trip was one of those. I was going to Portoroz in Slovenia for a
business trip, something which I was really looking forward to, because I have heard wonderful things about
Slovenia, and I always like to see a new country.

Little did I know that before the trip was over, I would be in excruciating pain, cast my eyes on a really hot
guy, promise a high ranking Russian official that I'd deliver a speech in Russian in Moscow in front of 200
people (possibly including members of the government), and for all practical purposes propose to go skinny
dipping in the night with a guy I absolutely hate. After having told him so. All this while utterly and completely

I could chose between flying into Trieste, Venice and Ljubljana, and since I know Venice is a total tourist
trap, plus I have been there several times before I decided to go to either Ljubljana to see a capital I have
never been to, or to Trieste to practice some Italian and experience some real Italian culture. 99% of this
year's vacation budget has been spent on my daughters, but I figured I could afford to spend one night at a
hotel. And then of course Venice turned out to be the only airport with direct connections to Oslo, so I ended
up there, but I reminded myself that there are considerably worse fates than spending 24 hours in Venice,
which let's face it, is absolutely lovely with its canals and bridges.

So after activating my oh so rusty Italian, I put on a T-shirt and my brand new shorts and wandered around,
looking at a postcard there, buying an ice cream with my favorite flavors of rhum/raisin and amarena there,
planning to go out in the evening to have a really good dinner in an Italian restaurant, thinking that life did not
really get much better than this.

After three hours I was sitting on the vaporetto, suddenly realizing that I was. In. A. Lot. Of. Pain. I had made
the rookie mistake of not remembering that three hours of hot Italian sun on my white legs, unprotected by
any suntan lotion, was an extremely bad idea, and from my ankles and 10-15 cm up I was really badly
burned. I found a pharmacy and got an after sun, and went straight home, and spent the next hour putting on
lotion and taking most of the painkillers I could find, which unfortunately were not a lot, before deciding to try
to sleep it off. I woke up after 6 hours, in even worse pain, I literally winced in pain just by walking the meter
and a half between my bed and the bathroom. It felt like somebody had put a band of red hot iron around my
ankles, and it was so swollen and red that I considered going to a doctor, but given that it was 23.00 h and I
would have been incapable of going down into the reception, let alone getting to a doctor, I put on some more
lotion, took the remaining painkillers and went to sleep again.

The next morning my ankles were still hurting like hell, my back was hurting from all the hours in bed, and as
often happens when my back hurts, I also had gotten a bad headache. And no painkillers left. Brilliant. I was
not supposed to be picked up until 6 in the evening, and realizing that there was no way on earth that I could
survive wandering around the city, as my plan was, I managed to crawl down to the reception and pay for
another night, so that they allowed me to stay in the room until 5. Feeling very proud that I was still able to do
all the communication in Italian. I also got some breakfast, since the previous day's nourishment had
consisted of a 6 o'clock breakfast and the ice cream. A far cry from the delicious Italian dinner I had
envisaged.I figured that I could then spend my day reading the Russian book I had brought, only to realize
that I had forgotten the book on the plane. Perfect. I spent the rest of the day putting on aftersun and drifting
in and out of sleep, and felt quite literally like something the cat had dragged home when going on the
vaporetto with all my luggage.   

Once I got into the car which would take me to Slovenia, things turned quite distinctly for the better, though.
My driver was really nice and interesting and funny, had lived in Cuba and Siberia and worked on a sub
marine ( not in Siberia:-) and was fluent in Slovenian, Croatian, Russian, Italian, German and English. So I
spent the next two hours, laughing, discussing politics, and history and learning Slovenian. By the time I was
in Portoroz I had learned how to count to 10.000 (really regular counting, and very similar to Polish and
Russian) and could say hello, good morning, good bye, my name is, thank you, you're welcome and cat, dog
and horse. Because you never know when those three words may come in handy. The word for cat sounded
like another word for mummy, the word for dog was like fish in Spanish, and horse I thankfully remembered
from Polish. It never ceases to amaze me how useful my handful of left over Polish words is when learning
other Slavic languages.    

The next day was spent on meetings, mostly in English, but I always get a little French, Spanish and German
thrown in, which is nice. I really should insist that my German and Italian colleagues speak only German and
Italian with me, I sorely need the practice, but the thought of using such a limited vocabulary with them, and
not being able to be anywhere near eloquent, bugs me. As it was, the longest conversation I had in German
was for about 10 minutes, and was caused by the fact that we did not want the Frenchman standing next to
us to know what we were talking about. Normally these meetings are held in Paris, but since the organization
was originally founded in Portoroz, this is where we went this time. And it was a big production, with no less
than four ministers at the top table. Two from Slovenia, one from Greece and one from China. We have
previously had the Brazilian president at our meeting, and although it totally beats me why politicians would
have the slightest interest in attending a meeting of railway people, I assume the Directors Generals have
friends in high places.

While I was sitting at the afternoon meeting, I realized that the next day's meeting did not start until one
o'clock, so I called my favorite Slovenian driver, who had been thoughtful enough to give me his card, and he
agreed to drive me to Croatia which was just 10 km away. The next morning he brought me to a lovely little
town called Umag which was really nice. The waiter of the restaurant I stopped insisted that he could not
understand how a woman like me could be there alone, and that I would not remain alone long in that neck of
the woods (flattery will get you everywhere) which of course put me in an even better mood.   I tried to get
hold of Agatha Christie in Croatian while I was there, but could not find it, so I ended up with Garfield instead.
Which is probably just as well. Whether I have an Agatha Christie book or Garfield in a language of which I
understand next to nothing, really doesn't make much difference. And then I had another long chat with the
driver on my way back, filled with laughs and history and philosophical considerations not found in any book
of philosophy.

In the afternoon we had our General Assembly, with people from 5 continents, and there was translation to
Russian which I listened to occasionally, feeling really blue for not understanding more. There was a proposal
to extend the period of the Russian president, Jakunin, and although I would probably end up in a
screaming match with him if we were to discuss politics, I really admire what he has done as a president of
this organization, so I took the floor and said that I supported his candidacy, and that he had brought an
energy, and efficiency and a structure to the organization that we really appreciated. Since I was the only
European to say anything, and since I am more known for my harsh words than my kindness, in this
particular organization, that took a lot of people by surprise.

So when the meeting was over, the highest ranking Russian official came over to me, shook my hand,
thanked me, and assured me that he would personally convey my words to the president. Now had this been
just any Russian railway official, that would not have made much impact. But this particular guy is super sexy,
super handsome, tall, sophisticated, and with a hint of great abs under his tailor made suit, and my heart
makes an extra jump every time he smiles at me or says my name. And I usually do not really notice what my
male colleagues even look like, they are just colleagues, but this one is really, really hard not to notice.

Consequently I suggested that they arrange a meeting in Moscow, and in a fit of momentary insanity I
promised to give a speech in Russian, in Moscow, in front of everyone, if they did. He smiled, and asked if I
might need help writing that speech, and I answered that I most probably would. So he smiles even broader,
and goes. "Well then I am the first on your list. And I'm the last on your list."

I still hope that my answer was that I might take him up on that, and not something totally unintelligible or
incoherent, because my brain sort of short circuited there and then. He probably just meant to be friendly,
but I suddenly grasped why a guy who is interested in you might read a lot more into joking remarks you
make than you intend him to.

Thankfully we had an official picture at that point, and then I sprinted away to go for a swim, after which I had
asked out for dinner the only one of my colleagues that I actively dislike. It was one of those "it seemed like a
good idea at the time" sort of thing. He works for a railway I am obliged to be on good terms with. We
actually had a good time during the dinner, and I do not like to have any bad feelings for anyone, so I guess
it actually was not such a bad idea. On our way to the dinner I had told him that I had been swimming, and he
told me that he had not, because he was not too fond of swimming and he had not brought any swim wear.
On our way back I told him that it was tough to figure him out, and that although I appreciated a lot of his
work, he made me really, really mad sometimes. He told me that he tended to have that effect on people. In
our way into the hotel I said that I doubt there was anyone bathing now, and he answered that he supposed
not, but that it would probably be absolutely magic now. I do not know if it was his unexpected choice of
words which triggered it, but I jokingly asked if he was sure that he would not like to go for a swim after all,
and he assured me that he was, and then we said goodbye.

And it was not until 5 minutes later that it hit me, that between him having told me he had brought no swim
wear, and me suggesting a nightly swim, he must have thought I was suggesting that we go skinny dipping in
the dark. And although I wanted to mend fences with this guy, that would have been 3-4 bridges too far for

Anyhow, it started out as a disaster of a trip, but I actually had a great time in the end. And I am healing. I
have not even looked at another man since I broke out of my marriage. And I am still not ready for much
more, but at least I am able to look now. Which is a start. Looking is all I'll do anyway, as anything remotely
resembling dating in this environment is 100 % out of the question.

And I even managed to put out of my head ideas as to what wonders dating a Russian would do for my
Russian skills :-)

I think I'll just have to continue using the more conventional methods, but I have actually worked really hard
using those lately. I have watched the Russian movies I have had time to do, and I have had a lot of Russian
classes, and I regularly meet up with the sweetest girl imaginable, who is from the Russian speaking minority
in Ukraine, and we come together as often as we can and I teach her Norwegian and get to practice my
Russian.   Great arrangement!

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