Poor Alex, already getting slighted and not making it into a blog posting? Well, scratch that -- he just did! While he's napping this afternoon, I am going to squeeze in a shower (my 7th floor neighbors in the Courtyard will thank me) and thought I'd post some quick responses to questions and non Alex pictures...
Cindy & Nikolay: Congrats on the impending #2!! Can you drop me your email? Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle: I was PRAYING that his hair wouldn't be buzzed when I arrived! The coordinator in town here says she always asks the baby homes "please no hair cuts after trip #1". LOVE that! He does need a trim... but thankfully he wasn't buzzed!
Heather (& Chad!): Yes! I am back at the Vasilievsky Island Courtyard. I liked both of the Courtyards, but this one is so handy. I LOVE the breakfast -- just getting tired of the price!
Sarah: Alex is from Baby Home #6 -- which is here on Vasilievsky Island. Super close to the hotel. You could walk it! Can you send me your email as well?
Sally: Yes, we're taking the speed train to Moscow on Wednesday. I think we leave around 2pm or so. I am excited -- but have no idea what to expect in the train. Any other tips?
Jeanette: I totally agree with your assessment! I think he looks a LOT like Grace and also Cassie (Holly's little girl). They suspect his mom was from Kaz...
Ok -- I think I got to all the pressing questions. I seriously love hearing from all of you. It helps pass the time and have a heart beat to home!
From my hotel room I can see a three different churches. One is across the nearest bridge, off the island. It's the largest of the near by ones. So this morning, Alex and I set off to check it out. He still didn't love the stroller... oh look! He snuck into this post after all! But more on that later...
*** Update: EDITED*** This is Prince Vladimir's Cathedral - consecrated in 1789, making it one of the oldest churches in St. Petersburg. It's been a working, open Cathedral this entire time, closing only once for a year in 1926 for renovations. It's gorgeous by any standards, but pales in comparison to a lot of the super ornate, grand Cathedrals around town. Seriously, they are a dime a dozen around here - it's awe inspiring to see them all!
Around the outside of the gates to the Cathedral, there were what we'd probably call "Homeless" people sitting. They weren't begging, at least they didn't ask me for anything. However, in my brown and pink Crocs, I surely screamed "AMERICAN".
Conversely, I think I have had too much exposure to Russia. On our way back to the hotel, a guy paused in front of us only to literally blow his nose/snot rocket (think finger to one nostril and blow like heck) against the side of the building. I literally yelled at him. I believe it was a combination of English and Russian... along the lines of "DUDE!? That's disgusting! Nil Za!" Which translates roughly to "Dude!? That's disgusting - don't do that!". Holy crap - I am turning into a crazy babooshka who yells at people on the street! Thankfully my friend Sara will be here to rescue me tomorrow. None to soon, it sounds like!
Lastly, tomorrow is "May Day" here in Russia. In the former USSR, it was a holiday in close relation to our Labor Day. After the creation of the Russian Federation, it was technically dropped, but it's still widely celebrated. May 9th is "Victory Day" - a post WWII holiday. Some people feel the reason "May Day" continues is for some Russians to take a holiday encompassing both. While I am not volunteering to stay longer, I would have loved to seen some of the Victory Day celebrations.
These "signs"/banners are hanging above many of the major streets,
celebrating May Day/Victory Day