Spouse, pending diplomat (aiming for January 2014)
St Petersburg, Russia
Just one? No way. OK first between walking and public transit you only need a car if you’re grocery shopping for a family, or to get out of town. Second if you like culture – music of any kind, dance, performance, art old/new/nouveau, history, science … anything and everything is here. Third is for the kids – there’s parks and playgrounds all over the city for the littles of any size. Restaurants often have a kids’ corner and a few have nannies on staff to play with your kids while you eat (WHY do we not have this in the USA?) Also kids are expected to be well behaved, but they are welcome anywhere.
First up is dinner at a Georgian restaurant. For all the political strife between the two countries, Georgian restaurants are everywhere and super yummy. One taste of hatchupuri, the cheesy bread, and you’ll be craving it forever. Shashlik, which is like a kabob visually (small pieces skewered and cooked over fire/coals) for the meat eaters … um I think we’ll take vegetarians somewhere else. Then off to the ballet. Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky, whoever has something playing that night. As many ballets are 3-4 hours long, it’s probably time to head home afterwards.
Georgian food, blini, vodka, solyanka (hearty soup with pickles – reserve judgment til you try it!), chocolate, honey, ballet, hockey games.
In Your Pocket, all the posters and billboards up all over town, or word of mouth.
Most difficult about living in St. Petersburg:
The gray of fall and the dark of winter. I am not a Southerner-sunshine-lover but it turns out I need to see the sun every few days to keep an even keel. And, getting the kids to the playground in the winter is hard when it’s pitch black until 11am.
When I had mastitis while my son was a baby and the doctor, in addition to eventually giving me antibiotics, made me do a vodka compress – yes, it was exactly what it sounds like – and recommended I do it several times a day while recovering.
Biggest adventure at post?
When I went to the little city of Tver for 2 weeks of intensive language instruction. Everyone says Moscow and Piter aren’t “real Russia” but going to Tver – I earned my cred. It wasn’t nearly as rough as people made it sound for getting out of the tourist cities, but almost nobody spoke English and even the ones who did, didn’t speak it fluently. I also had my first and only banya experience there.
Keeping the kids happy – meaning all favorite books, toys, games, clothes and bedding – and having all my baking supplies.
Warm winter gear; reliable internet; our babysitter/nanny so we can take advantage of all the amazing things to do here.
Sunshine before 11am. Since former President Medved kept us on daylight time 2 years ago, winters have gotten much harder to bear. At least the real darkness is only a couple of months long.
Can’t think of anything.
For half of the year: Jeans, T shirt, Timberland fleecy boots, wool hat, mittens, down coat, scarf/shawl.
As we have a good 6 months of snow and cold we go for something homey and warm. Roast chicken with roasted potatoes and root veggies are a relatively simple go-to and the ingredients are always available. We’ll round it out with a tossed salad if the greens look OK at the store. Finish the meal with berry cobbler or apple crisp and homemade whipped cream. If we feel ambitious we might pull out the cappuccino maker.
Lisbon. My husband was just there for training and told me the food is amazing, the wine delicious and ridiculously cheap, and people take food so seriously that they discuss previous meals during dinner. It’s coastal and sunny, and Portuguese is way easier to learn than the languages of some other dreamy posts (Budapest and Reykjavik, looking at you!) If you ask me in the middle of summer, I might have a different answer.
I’m sure there’s something, but it’s been 4 years since I was a newbie here and I can’t recollect anything.