Saturday morning we went to the mall to go coat shopping. It’s already starting to get pretty cold, so my down jacket just isn’t going to cut it much longer. We walked to the bus stop, took the bus to the metro, the blue line to the purple line, then crossed the street to a shuttle that took us to the mall. It was crazy, but worth it because this mall actually had reasonably priced items. It was weird because it felt like we were just back in the US. Until I went to buy something and I remembered I can barely communicate. But I did end up getting a pretty sweet coat. The last foot of it zips off horizontally so it can be a regular hip-length coat that I’ll actually wear again, as well as a Russian winter coat that goes a little past my knees. I was proud of myself for finding it and for being able to talk to the salesclerk well enough that she could help me find the right size!
After the mall we went to Gulya’s apartment. That was especially exciting because she has a really good job working for ILP, her husband has a good job, she’s well educated and has traveled all over the world, and yet she lives in a tiny cement apartment like everyone else. I’ve wanted to see the inside of one since we got here, mostly because I wanted to see what Russia is really like! I’m sure anyone who has spent any amount of time in Europe knows what their tiny apartments are like. When I walked in my first thought was that I was in a motor home! The bathroom only fits a tiny shower barely as big as a person and a sink big enough for one set of hands. Then there’s another tiny closet containing the toilet. The kitchen could fit about 4 people in it, but only one or two comfortably, and it has a fridge, oven, stove and tiny washing machine with a little microwave on top. There are two bedrooms, one doubling as an office, and the other disguised as a living/dining room with a couch that pulls down into a bed. But the best part was that besides inviting us into her apartment, Gulya taught us to make piroshki. They’re best described as a Russian pastry filled with meat, cabbage or potatoes for dinner and then cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar for dessert. They were divine! I can’t wait to go home and make them for my family. And most of all it was just nice to be in a home with a family. I’m not too big on apartment life. Our apartment is beautiful, but it feels like a college dorm with 5 girls living between two bedrooms. Yuck!
Just call me Olga.
No worries, it's convertable so Olga can stay in Russia.
Gulya's front door.
The picture doesn't do it justice. These mashed potatoes are actually dough filled with raisins, cream cheese and sugar, topped with butter and cinnamon.
Three of us squished into the one-man elevator.