After a wonderful night’s sleep, we all had breakfast and continued our conversations from the previous night. For the day, Masha suggested we go to a nearby park where we can sunbathe. So after a leisurely breakfast, we headed to find a car to drive us to the park. I say car here, because it was not a taxi. In Russia, when you need to go somewhere, there are several cars that simply drive around waiting to make a buck. You can just signal that you need a car, and someone will pull over. It’s a form of hitchhiking + taxi, and kind of a win win.
We got to the park and headed to pick a spot. I recognized the lake as it was the same lake which was completely frozen over just 4 years ago in the winter when I last visited. It’s crazy that a place can be so bone chilling in the winter, yet so hot in the summer. Actually, the heat is nice—it’s a normal nice warm summer. We laid out blankets and talked a while more. We then started a game of Russian Monopoly. All the place names are something Russian, and while Zhenya was the banker, we speculated corruption in the financial sector ;) We then paused the game to get some lunch at a nearby stand selling Shashlik/BBQ. It was very tasty.
After a bit of Monopoly, we played some volleyball. During the beginning of our game, Zhenya hit one a little off and it headed for a woman on her blanket. She was lying on her stomach, and a coke can was right in front of her face. I saw the ball rolling, but I couldn’t even warn her because she wouldn’t understand me. The ball dashed in front of her knocking over her coke can. Thankfully it didn’t hit her face, but she was not impressed.
Katya joined the volleyball game a bit as well and finally our arms were too sore. We then headed back to the apartment to shower and change. After about an hour, we took the train to the city to take some photographs of some buildings that Masha’s company was working on for a photo brochure. They needed some good pictures of the building so we used my camera. It was a nice evening to walk. We found a Georgian restaurant to have some food for dinner. I got Georgian style Pelmini which was fantastic. The meat was seasoned really well, and it was all packaged in a little spicy dumpling with a cold sauce and sour cream on top. Definitely a low carb option.
Our way home was quite an adventure. Again we used one of the car ‘services’, and we ended up in a car with really loud Russian folk music. All of a sudden, Katya sitting up front started a dialog with the driver and everyone got quiet. From the tone, it seemed like she was telling him to do something, and he wasn’t liking to be told. Then Masha and Zhenya got involved. Before I knew it, we were let out on the side of the road at a BP station half way home. It was so baffling, but then cracked me up as to what had happened. Apparently no one liked the music in the car, and Katya said could you please change it. He then said that’s not part of the driving service and you’ll listen to what I listen to. Then it just spiraled from that point on to her saying, if you won’t provide us with the service, we’re not paying and we’ll find another driver. So he says, fine, and let us out.
Luckily, the BP randomly had a Citibank ATM which is where we had gone looking for a Citibank before so I could get money. The Citibank branch we tried to find had closed up shop and moved out. So it was a lucky situation at least for me J
We then got home by another driver and we were all tired. We took Katya home and then got ready for bed. I was exhausted, yet somehow my mind was still active, and I ended up not being able to sleep well that night.