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  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
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30 June 1994 and 1 July 1994

Today I went through the Lyceum, a University in the Catherine Palace. I just kind of ran through it, there wasn't much interesting. It was the school Pushkin went to. He was a poet that Pushkin (the town) was renamed after (which was originally called Tsarskoy Selo). It wasn't very big.16

We finally played tennis again, but this time in a park in St Pete. The park had at least three tennis courts, two of which we visited before getting to the right one. We probably got more exercise chasing down that elusive tennis court than we did actually playing tennis. All of the courts were unavailable, so we ended up taking turns hitting balls against a rather low wall. We kept hitting the ball over the wall; Yala did it about 20 times.

The park itself was pretty nice. I should know, I got to see enough of it. It was very woodsy and there were canals and ponds throughout. Everything was covered with white fluffy things from the trees, like dandelion puffs, which are all over Pushkin and St Pete. They make me sneeze.

Today I went with Olga, Yala, Suzanna, Sasha and Melanie to the Catherine Park. There was a Chinese-style village, but it had been turned into a hotel, so we couldn't see anything. We ran around the park and Suzanna kept trying to put grass down my shirt. She's such a sweetie. It wore me out. That's the most I've run in about six months or maybe more. After that, we went to play tennis in our usual spot. All in all, it was a pretty calm day, except for the grass down the shirt.

Here are some generalizations I've noticed about Russia and Russian people:

  1. A lot of people have blue eyes
  2. They don't seem to mind touching other people. For example, a woman will walk with her arm around her female friend. You don't see that a lot in the US.
  3. They have a lot of old stuff everywhere: buildings, mostly.
  4. Their cars all look like Volvos.
  5. Most of the people I've met smoke cigarettes (yuck)
  6. There are a lot more skinny people here than the US. I find this fact highly ironic because American seems to have an obsession with thinness right now.
  7. They sing a lot
  8. They either put ketchup, mayonnaise, or sour cream on it, unless it's dessert

16 This small paragraph does not do justice to what actually happened. Olga dropped me off at the Lyceum by myself, and told me to join the next English speaking tour, and said goodbye. As far as I can remember, this was one of the few times I was completely alone in Russia, without even a spastic 10 year old who spoke no English to help me. I missed the tour group and no one was around the first floor, so I began wandering around on my own. On the second floor, a large elderly lady sat on a chair. As I walked nearer, she got up out of her chair and began speaking to me emphatically in Russian. I freaked, and ran out of the Lyceum.

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