A Swiss speaking Russian in Petersburg – Швейцарка говорящая по-русски в Питере

Дом Расколника or the House of Raskolnikow

As I leave the house that is my home for 4 weeks, I see a large group of tourists around the small monument of Dostojewsky at the edge of Graschdanskaja Uliza. Raskolnikow, one of the heroes of Dostojewsky, lived under the roof in “my” house, and a guide explains the story standing in front of a plate with the number “4”. As she waits for the next group, I ask her in Russian, what this is about. She is confused, aswers in English, hands out a flyer to me that shows all the posts that tourist groups are looking for today and turns to the next group. There seems to be a special Dostojewsky day,  but neither his birthday nor his day of death. I also heard that the code to enter “my” house had been published in tourists’ guidebooks and the house switched to an electronic contact system later.


Они все читают карты, я зто делать не умею – they all read maps, I cannot do that

Now at Sennaja Ploschtschadj, I am looking for the metro line that would take me to Ploschtschadj Alexandrogo Newskogo. I intend to visit the convent that Peter the Great built for this hero of the 13th century who conquered Karelia for the Republic of Novgorod (which in the 15th century became part of Russia).  I hear a voice say in Russian that they all read maps here and that she cannot do that. It is the woman selling ice cream. I answer that reading maps is not so difficult She opens her eyes wide: Do you speak Russian? Oh, I am sorry… where are you from?…

Вы Русская? Вы проваславная? Ну, входите! – Are you Russian? Are you Orthodox? Well, enter!

At the gate to the Newskij Monastyr or Convent, tourists now have to pay an entrance fee. I approach the cashier and ask: Сколько стоит (how much does it cost)? He looks at me and asks, whether I am Russian. No,  I answer, я просто  Швейцарка говорящая по-русски (I am just a Swiss speaking Russian). He asks me: Вы праваславная (are you orthodox)? No, I am not, I answer to him. He looks at me… and says: Ну, входите (well, enter). So I enter this convent without paying, as the Russians do, and, in the church, I light a candle, before visiting the cemetaries.


Tam – вам – фото or there –  you – foto

My next stop is the Kusnetschij Rynok, a nice fruit, vegetable, meat and fish market. Between cherries and abricots, there is a young chap selling his fruit. He approaches me in some sort of pigeon Russian: “There – you – foto”. I do not understand him. He repeats his words. “You can speak normally”, I respond in Russian.  Now he explains clearly that he wants to take a foto of me with his cherries… and for the foto, I also buy some cherries from him.


Дом Быта – Dom Beat

To round off the afternoon, I try the Dom Beat. The waitor serves a tasty Cappuccino with cinnamon. I look for Anna that I had met in the plane. She has her free day and is not there. The charming manager already knows and Anna. We arrange to meet next week.

Летучий Голландец or the Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner

Larrissa has acquired tickets for the Flying Dutchman in the Michailovskij Teatr. A great setting for this tragic opera. The actors sing in German, and I follow the Russian subtitles to better understand the German words. Young artists, a young stage director and a young conductor have set up this opera with a lot of creativity, placing it into our times with rolling suit cases and mobile phones. The singers were excellent, especially the flying Dutchman and Senta, his angel who saved him.

Why do they call the Flying Dutchman “летучий”and not “летающий”? Tatjana explains to me that it is a characteristic of the Dutchman that he flies – he permanently flies (letutschij) and he does not just happen to fly right now (letajuschij). Well, Russian has a lot of nuances, and I know, I still have to learn a lot.

На дачу or to the Datscha

After the opera, Larissa takes me to her Datscha north of Petersburg. Another Russian experience ahead of me.