Sveta is totally in her element as a tour guide.
We've been to a concert. To a movie. To a cafe. To the main pedestrian street. To tea in the dorms. Last Saturday she even took me to парк «швейцария», Switzerland Park, a big park that's a quick bus ride from the university. When I heard "park", I was thinking something grandiose along the lines of Kharkiv's Gorky Park.
This park is crumbling, just like the other parts of the city that I've seen so far. But it doesn't even matter since there's nature all around.
We didn't go straight into the forest, though. When we first arrived at Switzerland Park, we joined the crowd for a dance lesson as a celebrity shouted out instructions. We all mambo-ed and salsa-ed together while he went on about how healthy bonaqua water is for the human body.
Sveta and I tried to squeeze into the meet-and-greet after the lesson. No luck ;) Any dreams of starting a Russian autograph collection ended that afternoon.
We moved on to that most holy of all hobbies...
the foto sessiya.
Sveta called out placements like a professional. "Go to the bench! Now that tree! And stand over here for a minute!"
I think she was a little disappointed in the results. How could I not know to stand on tiptoes during the requisite tree shots? Girls here probably learn that at age two.
We got one stellar shot in which I actually looked like a tree sloth. Yep. (I sent it to D later and he laughed for 15 minutes, so it's a legit comparison and sorry, it's too awkward to share even here.)
Then she handed me the camera and instantly went into starlet mode. Oh Sveta, please teach me your ways!
But the COOLEST THING about my new friend?
She was carrying around a thermos of black tea this whole time!! So sneaky!
We sat on the curb and sipped the tea. It was sweetened with a little sugar and dried melissa from her garden. In front of us, boats traveled along the Oka. Smoke poured from factory smokestacks across the river. Two tipsy middle-aged ladies were in the midst of their own foto sessiya nearby. Theirs was a little more daring, since it involved climbing down the steep hill in front of us and clinging to a scrawny tree while giggling.
|Would you climb down this hill for a foto sessiya?|
We walked a bit further along the forest overlook, until reaching a monument to the Afghan War that marked our turnaround point.
Sveta and I decided to have one more adventure before leaving the park.
One ticket for the Ferris Wheel cost $1.90 USD. It seems like a good deal but it felt like we got only five second of air time... the ride was so short! The second ride made up for it. This one cost $1.50. Why the price difference? I suspect it's because they economized by not putting any kind of safety harness or seat belt on that ride. It was awesome.
And then it was back to the bus and back to campus.
What do you think of Switzerland Park? Would you spend an afternoon there?