A Swiss in Petersburg: Long fishing weekend or рыбалка

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Towards Finland

Larissa plans a long fishing weekend with friends at Puumala in Finland, where the glaciers have left a large number of  lakes and 1001 islands. Wednesday night we fight our way through the rush hour at Petersburg to spend the night in the Datscha and then drive north to Finland.

Heavy preparation at the Datscha

Larissa’s mum prepares a mushroom piroga and a blueberry piroga. A friend comes over and helps to load a boat engine and all parts of an inflatable boat. Larissa prepares material for the camping: Pots, flash lights, knives that cut well, a large board to prepare the fish we will catch and much more.

Going north to Finland, the country of vowels

The next day, we drive north, first on bumpy Russian roads (сonstruction work (ремонт) is slowing us down). At the border to Finland, we pass quickly. My passport with the multiple Visum to Russia is okay, and so are Larissa’s documents, including the license for the boat. “Look, how clean everything is here”, Larissa says. Yes, the roads are excellent. I no longer understand anything around me – so many vowels, often two packed together. Larissa speaks the language and I learn that “thank you” is “kiitos” in Finnish.

Shopping for the weekend

There are large supermarket areas. Euro is the money here. We buy vegetables, fruit (also cherries, called Kirsi like in Swiss German). There is a great wine shop with wines from around the world at good prices (actually better and lesser wines all have about the same prices – I buy a Gewürztraminer from Hugel). The bottles that we will take back to Russia are sealed into a bag to get the tax refunded.

Getting ready for the fishing or рыбалка

We find our small hut no 1 at the Puumala camping site. Max joins us, and after a meal, Max and Larissa start to unpack their imflatable boats. They first inflate the body, then put the floor in (it has been transported in pieces), then the rows, the engine and some add-ons like a meter for the depth of the water or a navigator, and Max also installs lamps, because he wants to fish in the night. After more than two hours of hard work the boats are in the water. Larissa and Max park them beneath our hut. A short midnight dinner with Katja and her dog Roxie that have now arrived, and while we go to sleep, Max leaves to do fishing.  Mischa and Kolja arrive and settle in the neighboring hut number 2.

Two nights and two days fishing

At 3PM on the first fishing day, our meter has spotted a lot of fish around stones and in the reeds (камыши), but not one of them trusted the many metal fish that the friends laid out to catch them. No шука (pike, Hecht), no окунь (perch, Barsch), no судак (pike perch, Zander). The friends try again in the evening – Mischa and Kolja bring back three fish around midnight and call us later to share their fish soup with them (уха or ucha).

I enjoyed the boat strolls on the lake and into the bays, under a deep blue sky and in the warm sun. The lake is very quiet, almost no boats on it.

On the second day, the lady boat catches one fish, and the two boy boats bring back something like six fish. They smoke the fish at the fireplace and make me try the tender result. Excellent. The friends leave for their second evening fishing, come back around midnight, as the sun has set now (but it is still not dark). They have not killed the fish they caught, as they thought, they had already caught enough. We share our dinner with some wodka and some wine.

Already over

On Sunday morning the friends pack their inflatable boats and all the fishing instruments (again a long procedure) and drive back home to Petersburg. Larissa and I first do some shopping in Lidl and Prisma (large super markets) and then get some more fsh at Disa, a large super market juat built for the Russians. They come here even in buses. At the Datscha, Blini are waiting for us that Tamara has prepared. We eat them with salmon and kaviar from the Disa shop and with strawberry marmalade from the cellar.

Thank you, Larissa, this was a great weekend.

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