…or A Waiter, Some Vodka, and a Sausage!
It’s been a few years since I traveled in Russia, but it’s the only “R” I could come up with, can you believe that? At any rate, this story takes place in Leningrad. What, there’s no such place in Russia? You’re right. That’s how old this story is; when I was there St. Petersburg was called Leningrad.
My sister and I went there on a tour, because in 1987 that was really the only way to see Russia. It was November, and quite cold, but those wily Russians have just the cure for the cold, and it’s called Vodka.
Never one to stick to tours, especially ones dictated by the government, I paid close attention to my visa. It said I could go anywhere in the two cities listed, Moscow and Leningrad, as long as I didn’t venture past the 10 kilometer point. Easy.
One evening, we planned to eat dinner somewhere the tour wasn’t. We found a restaurant and had a great time. Our waiter’s name was Vasily. He spoke some English and was thrilled to death to be serving us. He came over frequently just to chat and asked us to wait until he was off so he could show us his apartment. Anybody who knows me realizes I was not about to pass up this opportunity.
After his shift, a few of his friends met us all in the alleyway behind the restaurant. They had “starka” vodka, a brownish variety, and a big sausage. Right there we proceeded to take a swig, directly from the bottle, and chase it with a bit of sausage. I felt I must be on candid camera, because I had only seen scenes like this in spy movies. Don’ t worry, even then, in my 20s I did not drink much, but, as always, I loved the experience!
From there, Vasily took us to his apartment that he shared with three families. He had one room, and they all shared the bathroom and kitchen facilities. In hushed voices we talked well into the night. It was so late when we were ready to head back to our hotel that the bridges had been drawn up, and the only vehicles on the street were the militia. Again a little scary, but nothing happened and all turned out well.
Needless to say that it’s time to give Russia another try. I’m pretty sure that in the last 27 years, things have changed dramatically.
Have you ever been to Russia? What did you think?