Paul - who brings friendly nonsense (blur_kiwi) wrote,
Paul - who brings friendly nonsense

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Sad Sundays, Happy Mondays

Sunday evening, after the happiness of the day, was the saddest part of my whole stay in Saint Petersburg. Julia, who had been my guide, mentor and rock since I arrived on the Thursday afternoon was going away on a University Field Trip first thing on Monday and wouldn't be back until after I had left on the Tuesday. In short, after Sunday I wouldn't get the chance to see her again. She and Nik walked me back to my hotel where we had a really emotional farewell. We hugged many times, made promises to each other about future meetings and, I believed, both wished that it didn't all have to end so soon. We had a real, honest bond of friendship before I ever arrived in Russia, a bond of friendship born out of mutual respect and genuine affection, and since we had actually met that bond was stronger than ever. Now we would part. Julia apologised for the situation but I knew and acknowledged that it was the right thing, that her studies were very important and that she had to go on the trip.

At last we said our final 'goodbyes' and I turned and walked into the hotel feeling at a loss but knowing that we would, that we will, meet again perhaps here in the UK, perhaps in Finland or perhaps again in Saint Petersburg.  Very kindly and thoughtfully Julia had not left me in the lurch in any way. She had made arrangements for her friend Kate to look after me for the rest of my stay and show me some more of the fascinating city I found myself in.

On Monday morning Kate collected me from the hotel and we walked along Nevsky Prospekt. She was to be my guide in getting some souvenir and gift shopping done. Originally, the plan had been to visit the State Hermitage Museum but we found out that it was closed on Mondays, so that would have to wait for another day.
Once I had stocked up on books we took a bus across to Vasilievsky Island, past Julia's university to a vegetarian restaurant that was a real find and a highlight of my whole journey.

Kate's father was working on the restoration of this beautiful little church.

After lunch we got the metro to the northern edge of the city, then a tram to the edge of a forest park. Walking through the forest we came to a raised clearing and in the clearing was another lovely, peaceful little church. This one looked so very different to any other churches I had seen in Russia. This one was of Gothic design and much more like the churches I would recognise in the west. Kate told me that her father had worked on the restoration of this church as well.

I loved this row of bells by the church door.

It is interesting for me to note that walking around this church I accomplished something signicant on a personal level. Walking around this church I went the furthest north I have ever been. Of course, I have been further north in a plane but, to me, that doesn't really count. This was standing on the ground, actually being somewhere.

Then it was back into the city to meet up with Nik, go for a drink and a bite to eat and to get a phone call from Julia - that was a good thing.
Tags: julia, russia, travel
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