It has been a strange week of sleeping in late, showing Anand around town, and occasionally swimming and sauna-ing in my apartment building’s fitness center. It is both fun and tiring to be like a tourist again in St. Petersburg. I’m looking forward to re-establishing my regular schedule of school and job hunting after the holidays.

New Year’s Eve in Russia was quite something. Anand and I went to an Indian resturant, which he seemed to like well enough even though Russian Indian food is not at all spicy. We had a leisurely dinner and then headed to Palace Square, next to the Hermitage, just before midnight. I figured that if people were to gather anywhere to ring in the new year, they would gather there, and we were not disappointed. It was full of people with bottles of champagne and plastic cups, setting off fireworks.

Russians are really into fireworks. I can hear some out my window as I type! In the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, there were firecrackers going off on my street on a regular basis. They sell them in toy stores and O’Key, the Russian equivalent of Wal-Mart. But all this did not prepare me for the massive amount of fireworks that went off last night. After the clock struck midnight, Anand and I wandered to the embankment of the Neva, and we could see that they were going off all over the city, near and far. We walked home along the river, which took about an hour, and as we were falling asleep between 1:30 and 2:00, we could still hear them ceaselessly exploding. It was really something. And, despite all my fears that one of us would lose a limb or an eye to a stray firework, we’re both still intact.

Figuring museums would be closed today, we decided to venture to one of the far-out metro stops and take a look around. We went to Ozerki, which is near a few small lakes. It was picture-perfect Russian winter. People were skiing and sledding across the frozen lakes, and we even got to see some “walruses”, that is people who like to swim in freezing water. It was quite impressive.

As we were leaving the lake, we saw some people tossing frisbees. I could tell by the way they were throwing that they were serious Ultimate Frisbee players. I caught a stray disc and threw it back, and the guy I threw it to said “Hey, you know how to throw! Do you play Ultimate?” “Yes,” I said. “We play every Sunday at 1. My name’s George, well, really it’s Georgii, but it’s George to foreigners.” I haven’t played Ultimate in a couple of years, but I was semi-serious about it for awhile, and it would be good to do some sport and meet some people, so I’ll be back.

Tonight we’re off to Moscow for a few days. Should be interesting. I really liked it the last time I was there. Hopefully I’ll get over my sluggishness and have a good time.

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