I just returned from a week-long “vacation” in St. Petersburg, where I met up with my mom. She’s been interested in going to St. Petersburg, the cultural center of Russia, for a while, and since I’m currently stationed in Russia, here was her chance.
I would be lying if I said that she absolutely loved the city. In fact, I’m pretty sure she was miserable for the majority of her stay here, and part of it is my fault. She was only able to come for four days, and I tried to jam pack culture into a small amount of time. It’s just not feasible — one can’t rush around St. Petersburg and enjoy it at the same time.
Another reason was that my mom just wasn’t prepared for Russia. She’s traveled around Europe, and I think that she had envisioned St. Petersburg to be just like her past travels. However, as we all know, Russia is Russia. While St. Petersburg was built to be a window on the west, that’s all it is — a window. The lack of personal space, the maddening flow of people, having to walk everywhere, the inability to read anything, the language barrier — all of that shocked and scared her. Even though I was firmly by her side and even held her hand, none of that eased any of her fears. Russia is just too foreign. Too different.
I did my best to show her why I love this city so much. We went to the Hermitage, Russian Museum, Kuntskamera, Pushkin museum, various cathedrals and monuments, and the Mariinsky theater. And she got to try various Russian dishes, which she actually enjoyed, so not all was lost. I have to give my mom a break — she gave Russia a fair chance. Many of my friends aren’t interested in Russia in the slightest and won’t give it the time of day. My mom did come all the way out here, and it’s not her fault if she doesn’t like it. Russia isn’t for everyone.