Loading Map...

Pushkin is Omnipresent

Written on: Monday February 25th, 2008

A journal entry from: B Poccuu

So Pskov was pretty awesome. On Friday I packed and spent the night at Hannah's house. Her apartment is really really close to the place we had to meet, so we didn't have to get up as early. We didn't sleep much anyways, but whatever. We boarded the bus at 6:30 AM and left around 7:00 AM for Pskov. I slept on the bus, and then we got there around noon. We passed through a small town on the way there to use the bathroom, and I think I can safely say that it was the wettest place I've ever been. Oh, Andrei also liked his men's day present.

In Pskov we all felt kind of dead, but the first thing we did was go to the krepost, or old fort thing. It was very very very windy and I thought I was going to blow off the top of the hill. The church at the krepost was really really pretty (and old). There was a huge monument to Alexander Nevsky outside of it with a massive sword, since he saved this area from the Tutonic Knights and therefore saved Russia. Go him. Oh, I also went to the weirdest bathroom ever. The stalls only went up to our waists, so we got to have a little chat while using the restroom.

We saw a lot of churches on Saturday, and actually ate a surprisingly good lunch. We also saw a bilboard with a picture of Zhrinovsky on it that just had his name on it. It made my day, but I couldn't get a picture (sorry, everyone). In case you don't know, Zhrinovsky is the most entertaining and by far my favorite figure in Russian political life. He is the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, which he so named to trick people into voting for him, as his party is neither liberal nor democratic. He consistently gets enough votes for his party to get seats in the Duma (over a million vote for him every year). His platform includes the following: take back Alaska from the US, extend Russia to the Indian Ocean, free vodka for everyone, and shoot criminals on sight (including Jews, since he is a former Jew but had a mental breakdown and is now anti-semitic). He also often gets in fights on the floor of the Duma with the female representatives, and has been known to fight with his presidential opponents. He even threw water at one of them.

Anyways, back to Pskov. After the fort we went out of town to see the real monument to Alexander Nevsky. It's like 8 stories tall and just sort of chillin' on top of a hill in middle-of-nowhere, Russia. It's ridiculously awesome though (I took a ton of pictures).

Then we went to an absolutely terrible museum (it sucked). After that we went to the «magistrate's offices», otherwise known as another terrible museum. We couldn't get into the monastery, so this was supposed to make up for it. It didn't.

We finally got to the hotel after that, where we all realized that the picture on the front of the Lonely Planet guide for Russia was taken in Pskov, right outside of our hotel facing the river. How cool is that?

That night we just hung around in my friends' room. Poor Matvei was suckered into getting trashed by Pavel, in honor of Men's Day. He miraculously didn't have a hangover, but his bathroom was adjacent to mine and the walls are very thin, so I wasn't surprised in the morning to hear that he was alright.

On Sunday we visited Pushkin Land, which is sort of like Dollywood minus the fun. First we visited «his friend's house where he often hung out». It would have been alright, except that the actual house burned down and this is what they thought it might have looked like. Gah. The landscape was really pretty, though, and there were a lot of really cute cats, which Hannah may or may not have caught scabies from. So far she has shown no sign of weird diseases.

After his friend's house, we went to a monastery, which was really pretty, and had another suprisingly good lunch. The lunch made up for breakfast, which was kasha with the consistency of snot. It tasted alright, but I for one cannot eat things that have the consistency of runny glue.

After climbing a million stairs at the monastery (we also climbed around a million on Saturday), we went to Pushkin's house. It also burned down, but was rebuilt to look something like the old one. The landscape made up for the house being so boring, though. Even though she did make us walk 2 km through a wet, icy forest for no reason.

We drove back to Pskov after that and had some free time. I went out with pretty much everyone in the group to this little indy underground place, which was fun. We didn't stay out late though?Pushkin Land was very tiring, especially since it tends to feel as if he is looking over your shoulder all the time.

Monday was by far the best day of the whole weekend. First off, breakfast didn't suck. Then we went to Izborsk, which had a really awesome old krepost in a super sketch old town. Our bus barely fit down the road?it was like the stereotypical middle of nowhere town. I don't understand how people live there. The views were spectacular though, and we got to visit the so-called «fountain of youth.» We drank from it and no one died, so it must have been somewhat alright. It even tasted good.

I bought some super awesome green mittens from a street vendor in Izborsk, too. They're hand-knit and they have a really cool pattern all over them in pink and white yarn. Hoorah! I also bought a pirozhki from a street vendor and I didn't die, so that was good. (It's like a flakey homemade fruit pie thing.)

After Izborsk we went to Pechori, which was my favorite place from the whole trip. The monastery there was ridiculously beautiful?the onion domes were dark blue and decorated with gold stars. We got to go down in the catacombs?it was so dark that we had to carry candles around to see, and we got to see all these graves and such. The church there was also really pretty. On the way into town we saw a house that was being added on to, except that they were building a new roof and not bothering to remove the old one. So there was about a 10 foot space between the old roof and the new, for no apparent good reason. Oh, Russia.

After Pechori we drove home for, oh, 7 hours or so. It sucked. We did see a cloud that looked like Pushkin, and one that looked like a zombie hand. It was cool to drive through the Russian countryside, though. It really does look like something out of the 1800s out there. There's all these little dachas that look like their about to fall over, but someone obviously lives in them. For a lot of the time you can also see ridiculously far in every direction?it helps to see this when trying to understand the Russian psyche. The sense of an overwhelming never-ending landscape helps me understand, at least. It almost seems like, since the Soviets forced a revolution on a pretty peasant-like populace and didn't really bother to explain much to the peasantry, the rural peoples of Russia are like a reflection of the past. They never really needed to industrialize. Did you know that in like the 1970s or something they came upon a family/small town in Siberia that had had no contact with the outside world for so long, that they had no idea that the Soviets had even taken over? Unfortunately, they were exposed to new diseases through this encounter and didn't live much longer, but that just shows how truly large the Russian countryside is. The roads are so poor, in fact, that I'm sure there are more people out there like that. If you can't get to them, how would they know what's going on?


From Kelsie on Mar 3rd, 2008

Aw that's great. Monostaries are fun. If I remember correctly I visited one with people to people in either Austria or Italy and I know it loved it. :) I miss you!