feeling nostalgia: part one – sunbathing in underwear

One year ago, I was probably walking through Tavrichesky Sad in Saint Petersburg, smiling at how Russians of all ages like to sunbathe in their underwear.  It’s logical, right?  Why waste money and the headache of bathing suit shopping when you can just hit the park during your lunch break, find a nice spot of grass and hang out in your undergarments?  Plump, svelte, wrinkled, smooth – it didn’t matter.  In fact, the first ray of sun after the long winter, a line of braver Russians would also appear sun bathing outside of the Peter and Paul Fortress – there was still snow on the ground, mind you, but that didn’t matter.  Now, I don’t want to exaggerate – many Russians do wear bathing suits, but usually they were the beach sun bathers, not the park bathers.

Anyhow, now that I am home and back in the States, I have been doing my best to grasp the Motherland and understand what makes her tick.  My thesis research has had me sinking my teeth into whatever literature will give me a better understanding of how Russia developed following the great demise.  I now think I understand what I could not grasp while living in Russia.  I absorbed a lot but couldn’t process it all until removed from it.  And the ironic thing is, I really know very little.  Think about it – do New Yorkers get Californians or Texans, and vise versa?  Do politicians in Washington really understand politics in the rest of the world?  My point is that Russia is dynamic.  I lived in a beautiful “modern” city very isolated from the more rural Russia.  I caught glimpses when I traveled on the train in third class with the locals, but Russia is vast and so are her people and history.  I recently read, and highly recommend, Susan Richards book Lost and Found in Russia, as it gives the reader a good idea of what life was like for Russian people following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Richards dedicated almost two decades to traveling through Russia, making new friends and telling their stories in her book.  Someday, I hope to be able to take the time to traverse the entire country (and ideally, post-Soviet space), but for now, I’m going to do what I did not do much of while I was in Russia – write about it.  Most of my blog posts were dedicated to photos and sight-seeing, which left me too exhausted to actually write about what it was like living in Russia as a foreigner.  We used to have a little saying – back in “the West…….”

That being said, now that I am back in “the West” looking back at days not long ago, I will begin to write about the untold events that exist for me now only in memories and photographs, beginning with the day I left home, terrified of what was ahead.  It didn’t help that Domodedovo airport was bombed the morning of the day I was scheduled to fly out.  I confess now, I started to have second thoughts, but then my parents thoughtfully tried to console me with the notion that security is always heightened after such incidents – when my friend and I arrived at Moscow’s other airport, you could have fooled us!  If “heightened” is the blond woman who frisked me when I went through Security and then proceeded to laugh at my underwear, then okay 🙂  My husband was sneaked through security at this same airport when he was about to miss his connecting flight to SPB.  I honestly don’t want to write everything now, so I will stop here and go for a jog, where I am sure I will not see people sun bathing in their underwear.  Until next time…..

Here’s to sunbathers across the globe!

Sunbathers outside of Peter and Paul Fortress.

Peter and Paul Fortress – the beach.

playing on pillars and watching the tourists go by in the boats.

the beach – Peter and Paul Fortress.

the wedding couple.

Girl talk.

13 thoughts on “feeling nostalgia: part one – sunbathing in underwear

  1. Hi there, I found your blog when searching for “life in st. peterburg” and I am really glad I did. Your pictures show many sides of the countries and cities you have visited instead of just popular sightseeing. I am applying to St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University and if I get accepted I will be there for at leat 5 years so you must know I am pretty curious about what is like living there. If you have a Facebook account or an email address I would really appreciate your time taken to give me your opinion on the city. Based on your blog I can tell you had a great time, but it would be good to chat with someone about it before taking this big step.

    By the way, my name is Jose Luiz Martiningui, I am 20 years old from Brazil. I intend to go abroad to pursue my degree and if I am happy about it I intend to stay and stablish my life abroad as well. I am also considering Kiev and a couple cities in Poland, but St Petersburg is really intriguing.

    Well thanks for your attention in avance and good job on your posts 🙂

    I apologize for my english writing mistakes.

    Best regards,

    Jose Luiz Martiningui (you can find me in fb if you search for my name).

  2. Dear Lindsay,

    I have been following your blog ever since we heard in January of this year that we will be moving to StP for a couple of years with work. I have been showing the children your pictures as you capture the amazing beauty of everyday life in our soon to be ‘home-town’. I would love to print a couple of your pictures as decoration for our apartment (which we hope to be finding soon). Can you let me know if this would be ok with you and whether any costs would be involved if you send us the high quality originals? I would love to portray the beauty of StP in our new home through your pictures. Thanks in advance for your response (ruthfrans@hotmail.com)


  3. When I lived at the beach of Cape Hatteras NC I met a lot of Russians they were there to work for the summer. I always found them a little weird and this bathing suit thing I can so see it. One russian was in love with me and me her until she wanted to marry me . We only were hanging out maybe 2 months . Than I knew she just wanted a ticket to the usa and she offered we 5 grand to marry her. Now I regret it cause we did love each other but I always thought it kinda weird of her to ask, Reading your work brings back memories of my Russian summer in the good old USA

  4. …”My point is that Russia is dynamic”……. Damn this is exactly right words. I am Russian and I’m live in Siberia. Moscow and Saint Petersburg is so isolated from entire Russia that some time I even think that is completely different country. People who live in Moscow use to say “is there is a life outside the MKAD in Russia?” If you want to fill real Russia grasp it what is it, you have to go outside the Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I am pretty sure that America is not only New-York . I would like to say big thanks to Author of this interesting blog(Unfortunately I do not your name sorry). I found this blog when I decide to know what foreigner people think about life in Russia. Thank you very much keep writing and grasp! If you need any help in your journey through the Russia let me know! 🙂

    • Thank you Dmitriy! I’m glad you enjoy my blog 🙂 Please do come to visit the US one day! I hope to make it out to Siberia sometime next year (and hopefully in Winter!) I did go to Murmansk in 2011 in winter, and that made me feel as though I was in “real” Russia 🙂 Also, your English if great – better than my Russian! Cheers!

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