Connecting, Russia And Chocolate Bars

Day two of our overnight stay in St. Petersburg was all about making local connections, something I might not have thought possible on day one that was more suited as a backdrop for a cold war film. Sunny skies seemed to bring out sunny faces on the streets of a city known for being home of the czars. Our tour du jour was basically a motor coach ride to the center of town for several hours free time. The day provided plenty of opportunity to get lost, buy souvenirs and make local connections.

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The 20-minute transfer from Azamara Quest’s docking position to Nevsky Prospect, a major shopping area with plenty to offer everyone visiting.   The tour was basically just a legal way to get off the ship without a Russian visa with local tour guide Anastasia, narrating along the way.

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Dropped by a tourist information center with helpful, friendly, smiling English-speaking people to answer questions, we had three hours on our own to roam freely.

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Choosing one of my favorite activities when in a city for the first time, we promptly got lost looking for suggested shopping we had passed along the way. Learning from vast experience in this area, I had briefly paused to drop a pin on the location of the tourist information center by quickly turning on my smartphone, telling Google where I was and turning it off again. I’ll surely be getting ads for Russian salad dressing for months on the various websites I visit upon returning back to Florida. It’s a little deal we have, Google and I; have your way with my information, just don’t let me get too lost. It works.


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After a few stops for photos including that of a Russian Starbucks to dazzle my local barista’s with back home and 10,000 Fitbit steps we were back on track, heading back to the tourist information center. The plan was to just be sure we were back in that part of town with plenty of time to spare, then take off from there and not go too far.

Interestingly, in the general vicinity of the tourist information center that also sold all things Russian, there were no other shops. But right across the street from tourist central was a lovely park where locals were enjoying the unusually warm day, probably thinking they had awakened in a different land for some reason.


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Street vendors included Rosa here at what appeared to be a hot dog cart. I have no idea what it would be called in Russian. I did not need to know that, how to order what she had for sale or communicate with her in any other way but the look of delight that lovers of hot dogs have. We connected.

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Looking deep into her eyes and her mine, we shared a mutual love of the tubular fast food that is universal and known the world over. We got each other. Our connection and Rosa’s offerings were quite unique though.


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The result was a gastronomic experience I will not soon forget. We connected, Rosa and I, with not a word spoken.


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Still with time to spare, I returned to the tourist mecca to shed myself of Russian Rubles, buying a dozen chocolate bars that I thought might come in handy along the way. Caught in an alley by the KGB, perhaps one or two chocolate bars could be traded for my freedom or at least favors from gulag guards. Checking back in with tour guide Anastasia we practiced my Russian accent, so they could be delivered properly.   What’s the gift of a Russian chocolate bar without the accompanying accent to deliver it?

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