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St. Petersburg pt 4 (Peterhoef)

September 17, 2014


One of the most interesting things we did while in St. Petersburg was take the bus over to the Peterhoef estate and then take the ferry back when we were finished. It was a cold, windy walk down to the ferry dock, but we survived. I guess the day wore me out because halfway back to shore, I fell asleep and slept until we docked!

Peterhoef was a fun excursion though. We didn’t go inside, but wandered around and enjoyed all the greenery and fountains.

In no particular order are some pics from the day:































St. Petersburg pt 3 (Divo Ostrov)

September 16, 2014

On our second to last day in SP, we took the metro over to Yelagin Island. I had read there was a nice park there so we decided to check it out. After wandering around and exploring all there was to see, crossing bridges here and there from little island to little island, scoring cans of free Nestea that were being handed out, and trying an eclair from a little food truck (um…my fault for thinking it would taste at all like the eclairs I love to eat around Europe. It did not), we headed back towards the metro and decided to check out a little amusement park we’d seen right across from the metro.  Divo Ostrov (Wonder Island) on Krestovsky Island was such a fun little surprise. I think they are ripping off the Disney lettering in their sign:

IMG_4358 and trying to rip off Disneyland as a whole but whatever. Clearly it’s not Disneyland, but I am sure most of them wouldn’t know the difference.

It was such a cute little place though, and the kids there seemed to be having fun =)










This sign says “hot burger with ice cream, 90 rubles.” (about 3 dollars)









Map of some of the islands around St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg pt 2

September 15, 2014


In addition to doing lots of eating while in St. Petersburg, we also did a LOT of walking and sightseeing.

Here are a few of the things we saw:


Kazansky Sobor









Several fun pedestrian streets



Church of our Savior on the Spilled Blood (there are many variations on this name)







The Peter and Paul fortress


People riding horses around town


The last of the White Nights


Artists painting




Creepy faces in windows






Cats =)



People waiting for buses with bags on their heads (???)



Trees that reminded me of Arizona


Pretty sunsets




The oddest little bird that kept trying to attack us when we tried to walk down the path. He kept flying into my face and making me scream. It was so weird!! We finally left and went a different way.


Brides and grooms. Of course, it’s Russia ;)


A very hairy doll


A fun little place to eat (Pita’s)


Funny signs


And funny shirts


And cute signs =)


Babushkas singing about their beloved USSR


Cars that belong in the zoo


Wedding party fun


Pretty meadows full of flowers


Silent disco?


The metro in SP is quite different than the Moscow Metro


Fun metro ceiling


View out our hostel window


Two brand new pins on the USA part of the map =)


Random art


A strangely abandoned looking building, with fresh flowers in the planters


The Alexander Nevsky Monastery


Having fun


Old bells






Pretty cemetery


Very Soviet looking headstone


Around the monastery


Shiny copper scales in the metro


Pretty mosaics in the metro


Santa Barbara is so close, ha ;)


Golden-winged lions holding up this bridge


Peeking through the fence


Take off of Burger King?


Donuts, Burgers and Pizza…I bet Russians don’t run this place


The countdown

September 10, 2014

I am now just 11 days away from heading off to spend the next 12 months in Australia and feel like maybe I should start writing more about it. =) It has been slowly sneaking up on me, but now that it is literally around the corner, I am starting to think about it more. In addition to the upcoming move, my youngest brother is getting married (the night before I leave!) and I have also spent the last month + working back at the APU. So my brain has been slightly all over the place lately. 

So many upcoming changes! I don’t know entirely what to expect over the next few months. But I have been reading anything I can get my hands on. So we shall see. =) If living abroad again is anything like last time (because really, we can compare Russia and Australia, right?  ;) then I foresee days of not knowing entirely what is going on, or what just happened, days of wondering why did I move to one of the most expensive places on the planet? And days of exceeding awe and wonder that I actually get to live here and do this and this is the MOST AMAZING experience ever and why did I not do this sooner?? 

I get slightly giddy at all the possibilities when I stop and think about it. [Once I get past the thoughts of my nephew will be almost 2 next time I see him in person and my parents will be older and things will have changed and America might feel slightly foreign again when I come back the first time and I will be missing everyone’s birthdays and Christmas and 4th of July and… It’s a conflicted life, the expat life. On the one hand it is THE most amazing experience and once you do it you will probably be forever addicted to it. And on the other hand it’s one of the hardest things you do because it invariably means saying a billion goodbyes and if you are like me and hate goodbyes, it’s practically the worst thing ever and you can’t say goodbye to anyone without tears leaking out everywhere and wondering why this ever seemed like a good idea. 

And, friends, I have to stand up on the platform during my brother’s wedding and try to NOT get emotional as I think about the fact that a few hours later I have to say goodbye to everyone for at least a year and hop on a plane for the next 24+ hours (I haven’t even counted but it’s two long flights, I know that much.). Yeah, I can tell already how THAT is going to turn out. =( I can’t even type it without tearing up. Seriously, why can’t everyone just move around with me? Is it really asking too much? America is overrated anyways. Ok, I am kidding. America is not overrated. America is the best and I can say that with confidence since I have spent a good chunk of time here ;) and have many countries to compare to. So yeah. But really. This whole globe-trotting thing would be a whole lot easier if I could convince someone to just go with me. I guess this is why people get married. But then you can’t travel. Although, the new dentist* I met yesterday is convinced (yes, she said that) that I will “meet someone in Australia and stay there.” Because clearly that’s something a dentist would know. But with the sharp metal thing she kept poking in my mouth, I wasn’t about to argue with her. 

Anyway…with my stellar blogging record, you probably already know how much you can count on me to keep this thing current and updated. But I really will try harder to let everyone know how Australia is. There probably won’t be the pesky problem of the Australian government blocking my blog at random times (ahem, Russia), so at least I won’t have that excuse problem =) I really promise, I will try to do better. 

Please keep me in your prayers as I go. I know Australia is nothing like Russia, but I know so much of my amazing Russian experience was due to all your prayers, and I would really appreciate the prayers for Australia too. There will still be lots of adjusting, AND I “get’ to drive on the other side of the road. Yay [that was sarcastic]. So please pray I don’t kill any of us. Thanks. =)

*Nothing like a trip home to get caught up on all the medical things that go by the wayside while you live overseas. Or maybe that’s just me. 

St. Petersburg pt 1

September 2, 2014

A few weeks before I moved away from Moscow, a friend and I flew up to St. Petersburg for a few days. [Yes, we flew. It was cheaper than the train when we went to buy tickets. I think I am glad I avoided the infamous sleeper train, ha.]

I had never stayed in a hostel before [after visiting 36 countries you'd think I'd have stayed at at least one before, but nope.] so it was an interesting experience. It reminded me of summer camp life. One girl was, at least temporarily, living in our dorm room and was practically there 24/7. The others were in and out and for an 8 person room we generally only had 5 of us at most. Which was nice considering the tiny amount of open floor space between beds! [Two people could not walk past each other between the beds.] But the price was nice and the location was great [Hostel Dostoevsky just a few blocks from Nevsky Prospekt].

We spent a lot of time each day wandering the streets off of Nevsky Prospekt and discovering cafes and restaurants we wanted to go back to later. We spent a lot of time eating and plotting our next meals ;) And in between that we did some sightseeing.

Here are some food places we highly recommend:


Schastye Cafe – we only had desserts here but they were so good we looked them up when we were back in Moscow as well. The one in SP is better though.



Biblioteka [we only had desserts here but we came back several times because they had so many amazing choices]



King Pong [Pan Asian]



Pita’s [Mediterranean street food - inexpensive and delicious]


Australia here I come!

August 25, 2014

So..I got my Australian visa about a week ago! To say I was excited would be an understatement. 

I finally got some of my plans worked out and I will leave for Brisbane (where I will spend at least the first few months) near the end of September. Unfortunately I won’t get my layover in Dubai like I had hoped. I decided to turn the entire thing over to a travel agent when I decided to combine these tickets with my Asian flights for early next year and he has me flying through Manila, which is slightly a bummer since I’ll be back in Manila in Feb, but oh well. At least I do get my long layover in Singapore on the way back from Manila in Feb.
I’m kind of hesitant to combine so many flights on one ticket, especially since I don’t know my long term plans (although I have a rough draft of it in my head, we’ll see if it all works out like I envision, ha.) but I’m taking the gamble.
Super super excited at the prospects for the rest of this year and next year.  A little nervous since the whole au pairing thing will present its own challenges. But I know God will provide and work everything out just like He did in Russia. And how could I live by faith without things like this forcing me to? =)


August 12, 2014

A week ago today I arrived back home in Los Angeles more than 24 hours after I first left my apartment in Moscow. The last few days in Moscow alternated between crazy and me just waiting for time to tick by so I could actually pack everything up and go. I tried packing early but then had to keep pulling things back out. In the end I ended up leaving about half my wardrobe in my apartment for my flatmate to donate. Between packing and cleaning I tried to cram in a few last dates with friends. I tried not to think about every event being my last of its kind in the city. I hate goodbyes and just the thought of something being my last time experiencing it threatened to turn on the tears. “My last time riding this metro,” “my last time at church,” “my last night in this apartment.”

Thankfully there were so many things to look forward to in coming home, and so many things changing in Moscow that helped push me out, that I was ready to go in the end. I was so excited to go home that I couldn’t get on that plane fast enough. =) A far cry from my thought a few weeks earlier that I might spend the entire flight in tears. It probably also didn’t hurt that Moscow’s Domodedovo airport is always about 15 degrees too hot and any time spent inside is too much time there. Getting on an air-conditioned plane is always welcomed.

Anyway…in one sense it’s hard to believe my Russian life is over, but in another sense, it’s so wonderful being home it’s like I never left. =) I’m just trying not to think about the fact that I am most likely leaving again in 6 weeks. I am not sure what is happening with my Australian visa at the moment, but if that all works out I should be moving again at the end of September. In the meantime, though, I am enjoying every minute of being back in America. Love this place.

It’s so good to be home!


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