So I’m trying to learn a little Russian right now. I’ve got a couple of phrases down pat . . . well, more or less J
Vi ga-va-RI-tye pa an-GLI-ski? (Do you speak English?)
Ya nye pa-ni-MA-yu. (I don’t understand.)
Yes, I'm all set . . .
Oh, wait. There’s still Step 2:
Before jumping on the Rossiya 2 or the sumptuous (and incredibly expensive) Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Lonely Planet says there’s a biography you should read: The Princess of Siberia by Christine Sutherland. They describe the book as “unputdownable”.
Beautiful and romantic Princess Maria Volkonsky (only 21) travels thousands of frozen miles to be with her exiled husband, Prince Sergei, in Siberia. (The prince was one of the Decembrist revolutionaries who wanted to free the serfs.) Forbidden to have servants, she learns to clean and cook, as well as cheerfully support the “emaciated human wreck” she finds “covered with verminous rags, dragging his chains” in a mine. Conditions did improve, but, after eleven years, Sergei’s health was seriously impaired, and, due to Maria’s efforts, permission was granted for them to settle near a doctor. In Irkutsk, Maria became a society leader who worked to establish schools and the arts.
The Volkonsky House-Museum now is one of the sights in Irkutsk – “a small mansion set in a scruffy courtyard”.
All right, here I go . . .
. . . putting it on my Bucket List. J
I was surprised (pleasantly) to find that, when in their food coverage, Lonely Planet makes recommendations for Ukrainian restaurants in Russia separate from Russian restaurants.
Now, for something delicious I'd be happy to find anywhere:
PEAR SALAD (3-4 servings)
From: 500 Sensational Salads, edited by Julia Canning for Hermes House
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Blue cheese (optional)
Shake vinegar and oil together and serve over the pears and lettuce. The salad is excellent; with, or without the Blue Cheese!