“Time to check the list”

So 2 weeks in and time to take stock. How are we doing on the list ?

Wireless internet now ok, not a secure network but ok for now.
Tv has the extended package so 50+ channels (although no tennis so had to fine an online site)
Got all keys except one which is not important
Mobile phone set up (my hacking of the iPhone worked)
Air conditioning remotes have finally succumbed to my control
Found Cinema showing films in English (well maybe)
Found a nail bar for Judi
Taken the car out a couple of times and only took one wrong turn (Gavin the GPS was a little slow)
Got my passport back with visa (the last time for 12 months then do it all over again, joy)
Managed to get the washing machine cycle down to 84 minutes
Updated the Norton antivirus on Judi’s HP Mini (by deleting half the stuff to make room, not happy about that)
Been out to 2 new restaurants one even had an English menu
Got a Euro account with Citibank (about time too although no card for me yet)
Purchased and set up “wireless” printer (so I still have some technical ability limited as it may be)
Chairs arrived and covers 3 days later. Expecting a coffee table but might have to go back to IKEA again to get one myself.

So not a bad run so far, still lots to do,
For some reason my Nikon battery charger is not working so need to deal with that before the batteries run out.
Struggling to get a monitor set up for Judi’s mini, it needs a VGA adapter and when I phoned HP they advised me to purchase from the online store, they show out of stock on an item they make themselves which is a laugh but means I avoid trying to buy something on a US site and get it shipped over here. Post is something we have not quite worked out yet but will have to tackle soon. Mastered the cooker to the point of cooking twice but learnt not to put a hot pan lid down on it as it goes berserk and sulks. Not responding to any commands for ten minutes.

Been to the Supermarket a few times now and think the checkout girls could do with a little “customer service” training. They give you the impression that you are somewhat of an interruption to their day. Stores here have a lot of minders and security it’s like that are guarding treasure and you get the feeling that they are constantly watching you. No bags are allowed in you have to deposit them at the entrance or get them sealed in plastic to get in. Once in there are people stationed around at strategic points. All this is slightly wierd. I suppose it is just the norm and maybe the loss of a mars bar or the odd orange is a big deal here anyway it is what it is. What is slightly worrying is the selection of items. Who knew there would be Crab falvoured crisps (chips) or caviar or Kebab flavoured for that matter and the chocolate labled “Nestle for MEN” has to be tried at some point. There are lots of thing I recognise and lots I think I do but need to watch out just in case. Going to the supermarket is becoming a daily routine as everything eeds to be carried home so not buying the usual 3 box’s of diet coke with one free these days. Also almost all transactions are in “cash” a report on the Tv indicated 93% of shop purchases are in cash not credit cards. Not something the Russians comfortable about. It seems they got their fingers burnt with a financial crash a while back so banks in general are not to be trusted and cash still rules.

Taken to getting snacks from the kiosks near the metro. Not quite sure what I am buying its more “point and pay” and see what you get sometimes its sweet and sometimes savory. a bit of a lottery but good fun.

Had a chat with a guy on a stall selling maps as I needed a metro map with the 3 different naming conventions of the stations, The Metro is entirely Cryillic outside there is also the Russian (latin) and I still need the European style translated version as my brain has not got the hang of “P” = “R” and “C” =”S” and the Cryillic is still too much although I recognize an O with a line through it is “F”.  

I have lots of new photos so tomorrow may well be a picture day.
I took a walk last week to the monument to “Peter the Great” which is a new one and from a distance almost the uglyiest I have ever seen however it gets more acceptabl the closer you get. It is on the river and close to the park of the fallen hero’s which is where they put all the statues removed after the fall of communism (mostly of the leaders) so lots of shots to share.

Judi has left for Istanbul so I have a couple of days on my own. It seems I have a list (surprised? no me neither) and I have to start to plan the Christmas vacation, after all it is July.


Famous last words “Shto vee rikamindavat”

“Shto vee rikamindavat” roughly translated is “what would you recommend” which is the question we pose to the waiter who has drawn the short straw and is serving us. We have already managed to order vodka and beer (some things come naturally)

We are in our local bar. I say local as it is only about 150 yards away just next to a great pastry shop.
I will say more about the place in a later blog, enough to say it could be described as eclectic and has a noisy Parrot in the corner.

So it is around 8:30 and Judi came home declaring she was hungry and we should go out. Fine not a problem so off to the local. There is no Menu Engliski in this place as we are off the main road and we do know there is an English speaking waitress but she is not in today. The menu is huge and does not seem to match anything in my “lonely Planet handy dandy phrase book” so we are asking the waiter what he would recommend.

Now people who have travelled with me will know this is my get out of jail phrase. If in doubt just ask for the plate of the house or the chef’s special or the waiters recommendation. One would think by now I would have learnt that this is a dangerous thing to do.
On one of our wine trips to France I asked for the “farmer’s lunch” and got grilled tripe which was interesting.
In Bangkok at the Indian restaurant (which Judi assured me was highly rated) the chef’s special turned out to be Kidney curry. Now ask yourself how many kidneys you can eat at one sitting 1,2 3 if you have stamina but not a plate full even if they are covered in curry sauce.
In Nice the house special was comprised almost entirely of octopus and squid two of my least favorite items. Plus I think a couple of them were still moving.
Aramanche brought a poisson (fish) soup which you may have seen in the film Papillon.
Whilst at the Great Barrier Reef it was Boston Bay bugs, alligator and wallaby
Cusco in Peru was guinea pig whilst Lima was Goats neck.
Hong Kong was a chopped up chicken in a bowl bones and all. This was in a place on the 3rd floor above the tattoo place (another of Judi’s recommendations)
There was something called Chittlin in Atlanta which is parts of animals you don’t normally use.
There are several more but you may be contemplating easting later so I will get back to the plot.

So we order a couple of things the guy recommends and wait. A couple of drinks and 40 minutes later something arrives. I resembles a suasage with a dip and some onion. Mmmmmmmm it does not look dangerous. The thought remember nobody will be specifically looking to poison you runs through my mind. Ok lets go for it. Whilst it is seasoned it cannot hide the fact that this is a liver and kidney sausage. Lucky for me there is only one and by now I am hungry enough to try the tripe again. Not sure why they though this one should go to me but Judi gets a plate which is something covered in melted cheese. lifting the lump of cheese up there are vegetables in a white sauce which are covering some as yet unidentified piece of meat.  It was actually quite tasty but that might have something to do with the drinks and the level of starvation.  Soon both are finished and we get the bill which is 500 rubles or around $16 which with drinks included which was good and possibly indicate we may not have chosen the best pieces off the menu.

Well it is all part of the adventure. So if we ever go out for a meal please please please stop me ordering the “special” as it would seem I never learn.