Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bitten By An Emu In Kazan


While in Kazan we were all assigned Russian buddies/mentors to help us settle down. One of the mentors told my friend about this petting zoo on the top floor of a mall near the city center, so we decided to go check it out!

The zoopark is located in a mall on Peterburgskaya street/ulitsa, in the mall behind Kaltso!

The first thing we saw once we got there was an enclosure near the ticketing office where there were some birds and a squirrel. The poor squirrel looked kind of crazy as it ran back and forth in front of the glass pane.  (luckily when we checked on it on the way out it stopped doing that) We felt so bad that we almost didn't want to go in. The ticket cost 150 roubles, and I also paid 50 roubles for some carrots and lettuce to feed the animals

It is a relatively small, even family run petting zoo with pigs, chickens (and chicks), turkeys, peacocks goats, snakes, frogs, porcupines, turtles and of course emus!


The cutest little white goat kept putting his hooves on the top of his enclosure to stick his head out to try and get the food (not gonna lie, I kept taunting it and putting the food just out of reach for him! I'm terrible!)


The place was mainly for kids, but we're still kids! Just....very tall kids! The man who worked there also took out a hedgehog for us to play with and the snake.

The look of sheer terror on my face

Then I wanted a photo of me feeding the emu. The only problem was the emu would really quickly stick its head out grab the food and then recoil back into the enclosure, so it was a hard photo. I also didn't really trust it and found it really hard to just look at the camera without keeping my eye on the emu....

and then it bit me while grabbing the carrot stick out of my hands.

Also on a similar note, while roaming the main street of Kazan, Ulitsa Baumana, we saw a guy walking around with an owl and letting people take photos with it for free, so here is the intimate moment I shared with owl here.

me + owl = <3 forever

xx Vagabond Girl

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Flying Hobo Style

I'm flying first class, up in the sky, popping champagne, living the li- wait what? The flight is completely full and if I even want to get on a flight back I have to camp out on a crew seat?

Staff travel has it's many advantages :
  • Discounted tickets on the airline my mum works for, even in first class
  • First class for me is about the same price as a full fare Economy class ticket
  • Discounted Economy class tickets on most of the major airlines 
All of this until I am 24 (6 years left, thank god!)

But it also has it's disadvantages, like not being guaranteed a seat on the flight and having to stand-by at the airport until check-in closes. Flights to and from London are notorious for being always full. I was lucky enough to be released a jump seat, which is a seat the captain releases to passengers with staff tickets when there are no more seats available. 

For take-off and landing, I had to sit in the cockpit, which is something I've done quite a few times already (for fun and because of jump seat). It is pretty exciting, especially if you have a cool captain who lets you put on the headphones and talks to you, and it can be pretty dull if you're just left in the corner until you are told to leave. 
My beautiful seat... Oh so comfortable !
Afterwards  the captain could release a seat which is up in their rest area which can be reclined and has inflight entertainment (or is sometimes a business class seat). Otherwise, you would just have to sit on one of those fold-up crew seats next to the door near the galley (kitchen area thing), like I had to do. Obviously I was quite lucky to have my mum on the flight to look after me but it was painfully boring (12 hours with no inflight entertainment! I have never done that before), and I felt awkward to sleep there but was so tired I fell asleep a few times nonetheless. But i'm not complaining! When I was waiting to go into the cockpit before take off I was seriously hoping someone would miss the flight so I could take their seat... and they did! My mum was just about to give me that seat when the ground-staff told her that some staff travelers have waited in London for 2 days already, trying to get on a flight! And there are 5 flights a day! 

Guess the dim sum I had today made it all worthwhile! 

xx Vagabond Girl

Friday, 19 July 2013

A Month with Babushka

In Kazan we were all assigned host families to stay with for the month who would provide a place for us to stay as well as breakfast. Some people got families but most, including myself, got a Babushka (or a grandmother).

When we received a list with all our hosts on them, I knew I had a good one. Her name was Galina Marina, and me and my friends had already decided that she's probably magical. Anyone with a name like that would be! 

She spoke 0 English so it was all down to me to try and string together as much Russian as possible with the aid of a dictionary to communicate with her. The first day was a nightmare as I didn't know how to tell her I was full and she wouldn't stop giving me food. 

But when I found out how to "I'm full" in Russian, I realised that it was absolutely useless as she would just keep reassuring me that I was hungry. Every morning Babushka would make an absurd amount of food for me. (Which sometimes included dodgy looking fish... for breakfast!!!!)

All this food is for me. Only for me.

My first impression of Babushka was... crazy? The first day we met she just casually took her dress off in front of me while changing. OK... the next day she was topless and I just so happened to walk past her room.... OK... 2 days later... I open the front door and find her changing (again) but then 2 men walk out of her room. (They turned out to be her son and grand-son but my initial response was WTFBBQ of course) Then the 3 weeks after that she just chilled in a tshirt and underwear around the house. Oh and one day I came home to find her and her best friend just chilling in their underwear.

Did I mention that my babushka laughs at fat people? Yeah.... 

Babushka's living room/bed room. On the left you can see the gift I got her from Hong Kong 

NO!!! JUST NO!!!! Нет! Никогда!
I was really looking forward to taking a photo with her before I left as she was such an amazing host, but she freaked out and wouldn't let me as she is incredibly vain and very hung up over the fact that she is now old (therefore she doesn't let people take photos of her :/ )

We had a DMC one night. I was just asking her if she only had one son, and she merely replied saying "Yes. He doesn't love me." Talk about awkward. I just sipped my tea and looked down. But then I told her "At least you have a lot of friends" because Babushka is a crazy social butterfly. She has so many friends and her two phones never stop ringing (and she's never off the phone... unless she's out or she has friends from Nizhny Novgorod over) 
Babushka loved my clothes, and everyday she would make me parade around the house and twirl for her. (She frequently asked whether my mother made my clothes.... I don't know anyone who's mother makes their clothes for them.) Our relationship escalated, and before I knew it she would come and stroke my head and my back, when I fell asleep over the covers she'd come and put a blanket over me and when she left me notes she called me красавица (Beautiful girl). She became just like my grandmother and I became like her grand daughter.  

I'm going to miss her so much. She was so sweet, and I learnt so much Russian from staying from her. She told me I can go back to visit any time, so maybe one day I will.

xx Vagabond Girl

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Привет из России!

I am currently in Kazan, in the Tartarstan Republic which a mere 12 hour overnight train journey away from Moscow in Kazan. Since I study Russian at University, we all got sent to Russia after our first year classes and exams to live with host families and attend even more classes during our summer break - for a month!

I only have a few days left now to take as many photos as I can and do as much as I can as well! So far I have spent most of my time on the beach on the bank of the Volga in attempts to get an amazing tan, but I have spent time doing other things as well!

So stay tuned for more to come!

xx Vagabond Girl