Monday, July 24, 2017

My Russian Sauna Experience

While I was in Russia I really wanted to experience a true Russian banya. Unfortunately, after two years, I hadn't had the opportunity, so A and I did the next best thing. For months and months he kept saying we should go to a sauna. We never actually got around to it because it always wanted to go during the week when it was cheaper, but I just couldn't make it work when most of my classes were in the evening or at night. For his birthday, I decided we really just needed to make it work. I'm really bad at buying gifts for guys, so I knew he would like this. The only problem was he wouldn't let me pay for it!
We went to VIP-Complex Rai (VIP-комплекс “РАЙ”) and had the best time! We had the whole place to ourselves for 4 hours! You might think four hours is a lot (because I did) but the time flew by! When we first arrived I was running around looking at and taking pictures of everything. It was so big and it felt like there was so much to explore. Then we finally decided to go between the pool and the sauna. I started to feel sick after about an hour because we didn't eat lunch and the heat of the sauna wasn't helping. We ordered some food - bring your own food! It'll be a lot cheaper - and I started to feel much better.
After we ate we decided to play some pool. I felt bad a few weeks earlier because he really wanted to play somewhere and I didn't want to go so I decided to suck it up and play. Now, my only experience playing was at my grandparents house growing up, and I didn't even know how to play then; we would just take the balls and try to hit the other ones without the sticks. It was a huge surprise when I ended up winning. Thanks grandma and grandpa Albert!
After I beat him at pool we went back and forth between the sauna and pool again. I also managed to slip and hit my head on the tile floor after trying to do a cannon ball in the pool and getting a ton of water up my nose. Despite all that I had such a good time, and I'd definitely go back.
About 20 minutes before our time was up we decided it was time to pack up and get ready to leave. A called an Uber and on our way home I saw a drunk man passed out on the sidewalk. Russia leaves you with some great stories. We stopped at A's apartment so he could grab some things and on our walk back to mine we passed these wooden animals. I was glad that they were finished before I left although that wouldn't have stopped me from taking pictures. There was a goose also but it was not very photogenic at all.
A took a video of the sauna, and I decided to include it because it's more detailed than the pictures I included and gives you a better idea of the layout. Enjoy!
Have you been to a Russian banya, public sauna, or private sauna? What was your experience like?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kommunisticheskaya Street

Sorry for the long, unplanned radio silence. My last few weeks in Russia were busy with cleaning, packing, and meeting with friends. Once I got back to the USA I've been busy with unpacking, and really not having any motivation to open my computer, yet alone write a blog post. I had intentions of writing a bunch of posts in Russia because I knew this would happen but things didn't turn out that way.

I'm back in the USA now, and I am missing Russia like crazy! There are still so many things I haven't done, so you best bet I'll be making my way back in the future. One of my first photos in Russia was taken here! I wanted to do a more comprehensive post of the street but I never got around to it seemed to rain almost every day my last month in Ufa. Don't worry, I still have a few more Russian posts left but my love for the country will never be over!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Soviet Life Museum

Верхнеторговая пл., 1, Ufa, Respublika Bashkortostan, Russia, 450077
The other week A and I went to the Soviet Life Museum at Gostiny Dvor. We had been to a similar museum in Kazan, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. I'm not a museum person, but I like these places because you are allowed to look at, play, and try on anything you see. I'm also very passionate about antiques and vintage items, so places like this allow me to go back in time. I wasn't expecting much from the Soviet Life museum in Ufa because it's newer and I assumed that it would be smaller. I also remember coming across some photos and it looked kind of bare. However, all my assumptions went out the window when we walked it. The place looked fantastic.

When we arrived we were greeted by a man who was so friendly! Obviously I couldn't understand everything he was saying, but I could tell by the way he was talking he was extremely passionate about his job. Entrance to the museum is 150 rubles which is a steal! On your right when you walk into the entrance they have things for sale including postcards, pins, household items, and even records! After we walked through the museum I think I spent about 30 minutes trying to find records to buy. The first room consists of items for sale, the ticket table, and some artwork from a local artist.
The second room consisted of what would be the kitchen, office, living room, and wardrobe. I love that this museum was broken up into sections rather than just having everything all over the place, which was the case in Kazan. In my opinion this museum also had more to touch and try on. My favorite piece was the fur coat which was surprisingly heavy and which drowned me as soon as I put it on. In the kitchen area you could actually eat cookies and have tea at the table. We didn't try it, but I loved that it was an option. I'm also a huge fan of Soviet packaging so seeing all the old tea containers made me so happy.
All the furniture was filled with items that you could open and look at. There was an old fountain pen that we were able to use, which was fun until I realized I got in all over my hands. The desk was full of old Soviet ration cards, work cards, and photos. The desk even had someones old school book of German words. I find it surprising that so many Russians learn German. I mean, in a way it makes sense, but if America was your biggest adversary why wouldn't you learn English? I also feel this way about Americans learning Russian. I don't understand why French is taught in schools and not Russian, but that's just my opinion and what do I know?
The last room was the children's area. There were old toys, old school books, and art supplies. While we were there a group of older people came to look at the orange doll that doesn't fall over when you push it. Apparently the guy was a collector. It definitely made me think hard about become a collector of such dolls myself, but I still have a fear of dolls looking at me at night. Goosebumps ruined it for me. The Soviet toys and household items aren't much different from what I imagine my parents or grandparents had growing up, but it's a neat experience to be immersed in the past like you experience at this museum.
Sorry for all the grainy pictures. I had my ISO too high. This is what happens when you don't have a tripod and teach yourself how to use manual mode.
© Coffee + Cleveland. Design by Fearne.