The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts from the “Russia” Category

The Robot Reviews: Peter’s Mid-Range Dives

Posted on November 26, 2012

You may be wondering: “Why should I trust this stupid blog for dining recommendations? Or even a robot? Robots don’t have taste buds!!” I’ll tell you why. Because good food (and seeking out new food) is a priority in my life. And although the titles “food critic” and “food expert” are both self-proclaimed, just know that they’re well-deserved even though I’ve yet to receive any public or private recognition. Generally speaking, the restaurant scene in St. Petersburg reflects the city itself: quirky, atmosphere-oriented, catering to niche trends rather than subgroups or any urban notion of gastronomical diversity. The following six places are only a few of the restaurants I’ve sampled, but I’ve deemed them either favorites or most note-worthy. If you’re in Peter give…

Where Did It All Go?

Posted on November 22, 2012

I fly home in exactly one month. I’m not going to say, “it feels like yesterday I was watching central London prep for their Olympics!” I’m not going to say that because it’s cliche and it’s stupid. I also won’t say that because “yesterday” would allow too much time in between. Listen, it’s more like this: I was in London this morning and I walked to Russia, to Petersburg, to arrive promptly at 6 pm. I made it for dinner, but today I only asked for soup because I had fish n’ chips, Dutch cheese, Swedish caviar, an expensive croissant from Copenhagen’s airport, bratwurst in Salzburg, every fucking thing in Budapest, Transylvanian gulash, more Hungarian food, pierogi in Krakow, Chernobyl borsht, more pierogi in…

Arctic Nights

Posted on November 11, 2012

Unrelated yet recommended musical accompaniment.

To the Arctic and back. Not many can say that, but also many can. Because it’s just another place – foreign to me but home to many. So I quickly abandoned naïve notions of barren tundra and nothingness and unforgiving weather. Because, going on with lost gloves, the weather forgave me and I returned to Peter with blood flowing through both hands and all fingers.

Murmansk is strange, though. A Soviet star of nautical ventures and industry, its Soviet stamps are still smoldering while those of other Russian cities have more or less tempered.  Maybe the Communist rally that I stumbled onto on November 7th – revolution day – makes me say that, but probably not. It’s simply something I felt in the hammer-and-sickle-clad buildings, in the gray and angular memorials, in the comradeship and friendliness of the people. An older woman chased after me as I boarded a bus. Catching her breath, she pulled the bus doors open to tell me that she had made a mistake when giving me directions. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t think twice about me once I’d be out of their sight, and none of them are Russian.

Final thoughts: it’s a nice place, but a lonely place. I’m not sure what I mean by that.

I tried my best to document it in a way that would do it justice. And I think that if you’d find yourself in Murmansk in November, this is what you’d see:

Upcoming Adventures

Posted on October 31, 2012

Much to my surprise, it is very cold here. It’s a face-burning kind of cold. When I remove my glove to change my music, the wind stings my fingers and it feels like my blood is freezing. Then I put the glove on and I feel the ice-crystal blood fill my extremities once again. And then my hand swells with heat. The winter curse of a music lover. But I appreciate all of these things because it means I’m in Russia and snow is falling and winter is coming and it’s cold, but so what? How terrible it would be to not have any discomfort, no? The night and the snow shut the city up. Everything gets quiet, apart from the soothing sound of…

Photo Essay: City Peeping

Posted on October 28, 2012

City peeping (v): to be in a city while observing curious subjects from curious angles. St. Petersburg, you should know, is a very peepable city. Not people-peepable, though, which explains the lack of people portraits. It’s a problem I’m actively working to fix. Petersburg is peepable in a different way. People peeping at the Peter and Paul Fortress!! There are these nuts who go swimming in the Neva in sub-zero temperatures. And then they sat in the sun and dried off, despite the fact that it was freezing with wind-chill and my cheeks were getting that tingling-numb sensation. Nuts, I say!! Window peeping!! A modest view from my bedroom. Landmark peeping!! So, like, there’s this church here. Not many people have heard of it. Car…

Feel Good Sunday

Posted on October 14, 2012

Hey. Hey you. Listen up. If I’ve learned anything in my short time on this earth, it’s that you must be kind to yourself. Because you’re beautiful inside and out, and you deserve it. You deserve to step away and detach from work stress, toxic people, and societal pressures. You deserve to kick it back in a nice restaurant – cheap, expensive, whatever suits your tastes – with a fork in one hand and a beer in the other. You deserve to laugh with friends about nothing at all and make asses of yourselves in public while not caring in the slightest. You deserve to sit in a warm place with no commitments or restraints. Every once in a while, you should have nowhere…

Theory of Omission

Posted on October 10, 2012

This story has three players: Ernest Hemingway, St. Petersburg, and an American in Russia for the first time. We’ll call him Chad. This story doesn’t end well for Chad. Hemingway Bar is located on Ulitsa Lomonsova, a dark and eerily silent street in the lively city center. The bar in question is surrounded by abandoned buildings and telling foreclosures slapped with bulletins in intimidating Cyrillic lettering. But the place lights up at night. It lights up and its emanating glow attracts all those moths looking for a drink. Sadly, it’s not quite the place Hemingway would frequent; the neon lights and bad music tell me so. My favorite bars are the ones where I can picture the man himself in the corner enveloped by…

A Weekday in the Life

Posted on October 8, 2012

I wake up at 4:30 am, stumble around the room looking for my phone, realize it’s 4:30 am, and curl up into a tiny ball under the covers so that the bed looks like it’s housing a strange yet sizeable lump, and not a human being with irregular sleep patterns. I wake up again at 8:45 and this time I need to get up fo’ realsies. But it’s impossible. My eyes hurt when I open them. I’m sheltered by a cocoon of warmth. At the exact moment I realize and appreciate my comfort level, Gemma the Weiner Dog bursts through the door, bouncing up and down like a fucking jackhammer. She jumps on me, slides under the covers, and licks me incessantly. Her stupid…