So I went to Murmansk. And it was good, it was fun. And I didn't even drink that much (I'm severely worried about my levels currently).
On the way there I got adopted by some ladies who gave me tea and wafers because I was a poor foreigner who cannot survive without those in the know (fairly true). We had some very nice chats, and it was really cool seeing that I was otherwise pretty much on my todd for the 20 hr journey there.
Getting into Murmansk was fairly interesting, there were some lakes that were still frozen up there, and the sun doesn't set at all, it just gets a bit darker in the evening (try driving around in a taxi at 4 in the morning with the sun shining over the tower blocks - class).
Murmansk is a huge port town set in the hills of the Kola Peninsula, and is fucking wicked. Theres a huge 80m high WW2 soldier who sits on the hill that looks over Murmansk, and theres loads of cranes below which you can hear when you're up there. It's incredibly soviet, I mean, Petrozavodsk is kinda soviet, but Murmansk is a monument to Soviet architecture and town planning. Essentially everybody lives in these tower blocks that are up on these hills around the city, it's fairly depressed (although was alot worse in the 90s, like everything else, apparently the population decreased by a third due to moving away, drugs etc). But under the White Nights its not so bad, everything's sunny and people are cheerful after the days where you only get 3 hrs of sunlight.
We took a trolleybus out to this new bridge that they've built across the bay, and then walked underneath it with a few beers, chilling out under the sun. After that went to the first Soviet kitsch bar I've ever been to. Not actually that bad, it was full of Russians actually and was painted red in the middle of this estate we were in.
Also turns out that Murmansk and the UK have a kind of friendship thing seeing as we sent them alot of stuff via Iceland during WW2 (lend-lease), they kind of like us up there. In fact, generally the people were really really friendly, always ready to help when we got lost and shit. Marina Petrovna told me that they're famous for it, and told me a story that once they'd been driving from Moscow to PTZ when their car broke down, a wheel went or something and even an acquaintance wouldn't help them but then this guy from Murmansk stops for them and gives them a lift home. The guy wouldn't take money, or even the offer of a place to stay the night. Klass voobshche.
What wasn't so cool was the fact that the morning after I came back I had to give a presentation on British culture, which I had written some good shit for but hadn't learnt obviously since I'd been in Murmansk. Didn't really work out but ate alot of cake and we sang songs and stuff after as it was like the big day for the language school where I have private lessons.
It's currently 26 days and counting until I'm home, and I'm starting to look forward to it. Although what I 'm looking forward to more is the fact that tomorrow I will again be giving an interview on the life of a foreigner in PTZ. No really, I'm used to the publicity now... :)
When I came back of course I was instantly given wine for two reasons 1) I came back 2) Sergei is getting married. Big news. Russians are literally mad when it comes to either weddings or children, and apparently there will be both a wedding and a kid so the family have gone fucking bonkers already.
Well, that's all for the moment just wanted to do a quick message while I could.