26 May 2010

We leave Petersburg to be Dachniky on the Volga

There are three dacha types …Gocydarstvo, Сadovodctvo, and Derevne.

A summer in the country is essential for many Russians.  You will appreciate this nation better if you can spend time at a dacha, a retreat which the people have enjoyed since the 1930’s. 
The three dacha types…
 государство, do-cy-darst-va, government run…  
садоводство, ca-do-vodst-vo, many cottages close together with gardens…
деревнe, de-rev-na,  in depopulated villages.

The rich refer to ostentatious homes which they build in gated communities near such cities as Moscow as cot-ta-je.  This is conspicuous understatement. 

We leave the urban life of St Petersburg…

On May 7 we took an Econclass taxi to Moskovsky station. Larissa had two satchels to place on a teleska, a pull cart… our son-in-law had the backpack , on which he balanced another heavy bag, and carried one with the remaining arm.  I toted a plastic bag with a few seedlings nestled in milk containers.  The vigorous life has passed me by.

On Russian trains you sleep with strangers…

Larissa and I shared our compartment with a mom, a toddler, and a plump woman.  The last appeared to be the aunt, as she kept an eye on the girl when she was sitting on the upper berth alone. It turned out their was no relationship, and at Celagare, the mom and daughter got off, never to see the helpful woman again, probably not even knowing names… typical.

Russians worry more about drafts than stale humid air…

Our train was the only direct one to Pena until May 31.   There were toddlers, mothers, and babuskas.  It was душно dushna, humid, as the windows were shut.  As LizinStPete commented, Russians have a fear of drafts, believing they cause sickness, especially in children.
A shirtless youth opened a corridor window. Some grandmothers told him to shut it, which they accomplished although he was annoyed.  I asked the provodneek to open a compartment window, but she said regulations didn’t allow it. 
At a long station stop someone opened a corridor window. Two babuskas swept  out of their compartment and struggled to close the window.  I told them to leave it alone, but one of them said a draft was dangerous for children.

A pleasant overnight trip to far away…

Our village is a long trip compared to the distance of the dachas of our friends.  We make just one roundtrip a year… and it’s good waking  near your stop.  Once again, our niece, a doctor in Pena , was waiting for our train to give us a good welcome! 

The best and worst transportation…

The best way to get around Russia, often the only one, is by train.  It takes you most anywhere inexpensively compared to the limited routes and prices of the USA.
The surprisingly awful condition of the roads, even in the cities, makes car travel difficult.  A train ticket from St Petersburg to Pena is 1096.86 rubles including a spacious bed.  Contrast that price  to the  700 rubles car ride, which we share, over 25 km of road from Pena to Zaloza, to get an idea of the relative difficulty of travel!
Zaloza,  32 39’W, 57 03’N, is isolated, only connected to the world three ways…a 10 km ride over gullies, ice or mud to a paved road at Zabellena… an hour and a half walk through the swamp to Zabellena , which has two buses a day… or an hour boat ride on Lake  Bcelyg.  This has kept the place idyllic… and safe  from marauders that prey on more accessible dachas. 
Here, I have to pretend I am spitting three times to my left, as this statement is tempting fate.  We say… fyt,  fyt,  fyt!

Suburban Russia oxymoron…

Except for the compounds of some of the rich New Russians there is no hint of a suburban Russia.   As St Petersburg life contrasts to America, Russian country ways are different than life in  the cities.

So, welcome to our village dacha! 
Throughout the summer I look forward to relating our experience as dachniky, mentioning some obscure facts, and recounting observations on American expat and Russian behavior!

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  1. hey there, sounds like a good trip. Just to point out, you've got a small typo in the russian, you put досударство, instead of государство.

    keep on bloggin'!

  2. Thanks Lieutenant! I'm happy you caught the typo before my wife, who has little patience with my Russian blunders!

  3. Hi there! Yeah, dacha is like THE getaway place for us Russians. There's nothing like fresh air and shashliki. Yum.

    You're lucky you live in St. Petersburg! I love that city, visited a couple of years ago and loved it. Have nothing but pleasant memories. And, trains in Russia do bring people together :)

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  5. Thank you Elena for your enthusiastic comment about the dacha or village life.

    We got a good garden started in early May, had family guests twice, big Russian meals, lots of fish but unfortunately no shashliki.

    We had malasolni agorets, fried zucchini, and spaghetti.

    Fresh air and quiet ruled until the forest fires sent some smoke our way, but no disaster.

    Lake Seluki, near Pena, Tverskaya was probably not this warm for centuries. Last year we spent 10 warm days in Xosta, Sochi in Oct. but I think the lake here was warmer.

    Your commenting is much appreciated and I hope you continue to add your thoughts.


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