Saturday, February 02, 2008

Novosibirsk - Day 11

Today kicked butt!! I woke up at 8am and posted yesterdays journal entry. While I was doing this Jennifer hit me on Skype and I was able to talk with her a bit. Matt was over and we were able to show him how we've been communicating while I'm over here and he was pretty amazed at the quality. He's right too; I'm half way around the world and there is very little delay when I talk with Jennifer and the girls. I guess, I've just come to accept it as "the norm", but agree that it's pretty amazing. :) We discussed a few things about how her Friday had gone, and I briefed her on how my Saturday will be going, and then we all went about our separate ways.

I then proceeded to the Trade Center and had some breakfast. I was able to work out enough Russian to order myself the "Chef's Special" omelet and a Frencheski Press coffee. I think the waitresses got a kick out of me because I spoke in very short words and smiled a lot. :D They were very giggly and spoke back and forth while I ordered. I kept smiling. :D Maybe I had something in my teeth...:B I don't know... I still smiled. :D Luckily the one waitress knew a bit of English and was able to tell me how much my breakfast cost. That was helpful because I couldn't see the display from where I was standing, and don't understand spoken numbers yet... keyword "yet".

After I had my solo-breakfast, I headed to the grocery section of the Trade Center to get some tissues. As it turned out, I got a lot more than just tissues. I ended up walking around the grocery with a bunch of ad-hoc items stacked up on a ad-hoc frozen pizza box. In hind sight, I should have gotten a basket, but that makes too much sense and I only needed tissues. I eventually managed to balance my items to the checkout and situate them on the counter. The girl that rang me up tried to talk to me at one point and I just looked at her with that "I just ran over your cat" look, put my hand on my chest, and said "Nyet Ruskie. Americahn." She smiled and continued to ring me up. She was probably saying "Doing your own shopping, huh?", cause I had all "man" items (1 frozen pizza, a pack of plastic cups, a carton of orange juice, 2 packs of travel tissues, some no-hassle dannon yogurts, and a tub of some Russian ice cream). I felt silly not knowing what she was trying to say to me, but (again) kept smiling. :D When I was done, I did impress her with a smiling "spah-see-bah", for she dipped her head to the side, smiled real big and said "pa-jou-loosta" very slowly and clearly for me. :D

By the time I got back to the flat, it was almost time for Maxim to come and pick me up, for we were going to downtown Novosibirsk today. I was able to put some of my things away, fill out a few last minute post cards and then he arrived. We were on the road and heading to Novosibirsk by 12:30pm, and I was pretty excited to see this city that everybody has been talking so highly about. :) The drive was very interesting. There are no lines on the roads. Cars just weave in and out of one another and have this "sixth-sense" about what the other driver is going to do. I actually felt very comfortable the entire time and didn't think to much about it (until we got to intersections).

Our first stop was the ice city. This place was AMAZING! It is literally a stationary, mini carnival made out of ice. When it snows in the fall, the city builds these ice structures and the people are able to enjoy it all winter long (~9 months). I took tons of pictures of this place and will post them to my online photo album once I get home and can organize them. Until then, you'll just have to see the few that I post on my blog.

The best part of this entire palace was the ice slide. Check this thing out:

video

It was amazing to see kids as young as 4 and 5 go down this thing with no assistance. My kids would have been absolutely petrified! Here is what it looked like from the top of the slide:

It looked like some of the kids may have actually been regulars, for I saw one kid getting off of the bus outside the ice city with one of the butt plates (for lack of better term) and he was running toward the ice city ready to do some major sliding today it looked like. I must say that if I lived near here, I too would come here with a butt plate. It was some major fun!

I actually busted my butt today. As we were making our way up the steps to this this slide, there was a very slick area and I went running up to it and slid and really dinged up my butt. So much so that the back of my hamstring hurts too. I think I bruised the muscle all the way down my leg. Between my feet, my left knee, and now my right butt cheek, I'm ready to go home. :) I thought about changing my blog title to "Luc's Online Pity Party"... Anyway, it's now my newest pain and it hurts worse than my knee right now (which still hurts).

After visiting the Ice City, we went into the city and had a nice lunch at a little "whole in the wall" restaurant that was tucked in little plaza area. The place was kind of rustic looking and reminded me of an old rustic Scottish/Irish pub that you see in the movies. It was fully equipped with a wood burning oven and had a very soft atmosphere. It is the exact place that Jennifer and I might look for if we were to go looking for a new place to eat. We all ordered pizza and the chef baked it right in front of us in the wood burning oven. We had lots of pizza and lots of fun. Scott re-introduced me to the word "dweeb"... something about an ant farm. :)

From there, we went to the "Opera and Ballet Theatre" and ordered some tickets for a ballet show on Thursday. As crazy as this may sound (me and ballet), I'm actually very excited to see this. I've never seen a real live show like this outside of high school (+10 years ago). I'm sure the whole time I'm watching it, I'll be thinking about the pez dispenser. :) I'll try to contain myself!

It was pretty cool walking through the underground tunnels to get from one side of the road to the other. The road was HUGE and would have been impossible to cross otherwise. Once we did some souvenir shopping, we all decided to just pack it in for the day and go back to our flats. The zoo is very inactive this time of year and it was pretty cold today. As for the Metro's, we really had nowhere to go and we agreed to ride them on Thursday when we come for the ballet.

When I got home, I dove nose first in these post cards. I'd put off finishing them for long enough. As it stands now, people won't even get them until after I get back anyway. Regardless, I needed to just finish them and be done. I spent about 2 hours finishing them and then as I was getting on line to find a few addresses and post this journal entry, Jennifer pinged me again. I told her about my day and was able to see Lizzie and Jazzy for a few minutes. Daizi was still sleeping and Lizzie has a fever. :( Jazzy was just being Crazy Jazzy! :)

Tomorrow is another big day, so be sure to check it out too...

Russian Lesson of the Day
I usually do a segment on what is different. However today's segment is short and is something that both countries share in their beliefs: Don't eat yellow snow... in Russia or America. Good night!

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