Sunday, March 7, 2010

3/6 St Petersburg: old friends, new experiences

Tonight we were waiting at a lounge for some friends to show up, it was getting late and we were super tired. Olga passed out and I decided one of us should look like we belonged there, so I saddled up to the bar and ordered a beer. Whenever anybody asks if I know any Russian, my standard answer is that I know how to order a beer and ask where the bathroom is. Well tonight I ordered a beer, the bartender rattled off a list of varieties, I selected the one that sounded like a dark beer, and she actually poured me a dark beer. I am very proud of myself.

Our last get-together of the evening went later than imagined, ending around 2:30 in the morning. The Metro subway had long since stopped running, taxicab companies we called refused to come to our part of town (Ligovsky in central downtown), there were no cabs to be found on the streets, and everyone we knew was in bed. Our group had to stand on the street not even a minute before the cars started pulling up. I guess it's somewhere between a gypsy cab and hitchhiking. The driver was nice, he is Greek-Armenian and supplements his income by driving people home after a night on the town. I was dozing in the backseat while he had a lovely conversion with Olga. It seems the official taxicab trade hasn't progressed much since the Soviet days, but where there is opportunity, there is entrepreneurial spirit.

Olga wrote about some of the old friends we met today

1 comment:

The other Olga said...

The taxicab refused to come probably because I ordered it with a hesitation and uncertainty in my voice. I've never ordered a taxicab in St. Petersburg before! I made a mistake of trying to give them the name of the bar instead of the address, and then second guessed myself and gave them the address as well. That was too much information and the taxi cab service freaked out. (The notion that they didn't have any cars available downtown is ridiculous.)

Picking up a random car to get from place to place is a very usual thing to do in SPb. My problem is that I've had a very sheltered life here, and at 31 live more or less the same lifestyle here as at 17..