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The explorations have to do with ‘P.’

1.)  Petergof  This was my first time on the train in Russia and my first trip out of the city.  The company I work for has another school to the north of the city, and this trip was scheduled so that everyone could get to know each other.  It was no surprise to me when only two of the English teachers showed up and the rest were Russians.  I know Westerners, and I know we always say we’re going to do something, and then no one shows up.  They really missed out of a fantastic trip.  It was a beautiful crisp, fall day, and I was in bounding spirits as we wound our way through the park, toured the ‘small’ summer palace and went down to the Baltic Sea.  We couldn’t find a restaurant with enough table space for all of us, so we grabbed snacks at a little deli and made our way back to the city, where I joined Lena to participate in the viewing and judging of the Manhatten Film Festival

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2.  Pavlvosk  I made this trip with Lena the week after I went to Petergof.  We took the bus to the park, ate tongue pizza at a restaurant, and then spent hours wandering through a dreamily rough landscape that reminded me of the wilderness in the Eastern US.  There happened to be a mushroom festival happening at the same time, and there was also a reindeer, performances, and games for the kids.  We saw dozens of women and children wearing crowns of leaves that they’d woven.  We took a couple of trails off the beaten path, and it took us a long time to find an exit.  That exit took us through a charming little village and we were able to find the bus stop about an hour later.

3.  Petropavlovskaya  I’d had a couple of weekends where I’d wanted to go on a trip with other people, and we’d try to arrange it and nothing would happen, so finally I decided that I needed to just start seeing things for myself.  After work on Saturday I took the metro to the Peter and Paul Fortress on the Petrograd side of the city, and spent a blustery couple of hours looking through the museum of the city and photographing the tombs of Russia’s kings and queens.  After having enough of freezing in the wind and rain, I made my way to the Starbucks of Russia (Cafe Khous) for a thick cup of hot chocolate and a slice of Bailey’s cheesecake.

4.  Pushkin  I finally made it to Pushkin!  After announcing that I was going three weeks in a row, I finally made the journey.  This was my first solo trip outside the city, but everything went smoothly.  That is, until I reached Catherine’s Palace and realized I’d left my memory card in the computer instead of returning it to the camera.  My Russian skills were put to the test as I asked the souvenir vendors if they had any for sale.  (I don’t think I was actually speaking Russian.  I said ‘carta fotograFEEa’ and they knew what I meant)  I dashed to where they directed me and sprinted back.  I kept wondering what country I was in, because all around me the tours were being given in German.  I’d squeeze ahead of that group only to find myself sandwiched between even more Germans.  I then explored the grounds and enjoyed the freedom of going anywhere that looked inviting.  I wished I could have been a child of a czar, because then I would have known every corner of the park as I scampered about daily in play with my full skirts and crowns of leaves woven into my hair.

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