St. Petersburg is (LITERALLY) a riot
Saint Petersburg Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
May 14th, 2008 – by: krengeseth
We spent the first few days in Russia realizing just how difficult this immersion would be. Communicating was more difficult than we imagined, even simple acts of ordering fast food was a challenge (Pro Tip: Trying American food chains in foreign countries rules, try McDonalds in Russia, it is certainly...different!), but once we hit our stride we were ready to experience the city like the locals.
My Russian instructor advised us to steer clear of bars for the evening, as the Petersburg football team, Zenit, was playing in the UEFA cup championship. Once it began to get dark (and at that time of year, it takes a long time to get dark, somewhere around 11 pm I believe), my friend Ryan and I set out to find a club.
Stepping out of our hotel, the streets seemed...livelier than usual. Judging by the waving of blue flags, scarves, copious amounts of alcohol, and random hugs and kisses from the football fans of St. Petersburg, Zenit had won the UEFA cup. It didn't take long for us to join the festivities, which mainly consisted of drinking and running through the streets crowded with traffic, car horns competing with police sirens and bullhorns calling for order, and avoiding flares being set off. I have never before been hugged by so many random strangers! Hilariously, when I was identified as an American by my undoubtedly obvious accent when speaking Russian, the locals seemed eager to share English phrases they knew with us. When I said, "Ya amerikanka," I received a brilliant grin followed by, "Zenit number one! Victory! Victory!"
Having experienced our fill of the crowd and growing nervous about increased police presence, we bustled down a side street, and found our way to a club not far from The Church on Spilt Blood.
Not long after the band left the stage, and Ryan and I had grabbed seats at the bar to begin our vodka frenzy, Queen's "We Are the Champions" blared over the sound system, accompanied by many Russian voices in awkward English. It wasn't until this song repeated a few times, in clear tribute to the football victory, that another English track played, "Wonderwall" by Oasis.
It was quite surreal to me, at that point, being rather inebriated in a Russian alternative club, dancing to Oasis.
Deciding we'd best head back to the hotel before it got too late, given we had a train to Moscow the following day, we stumbled out of the club and began heading home. On the back streets we came across a group of drunk men talking loudly, waving their beer bottles about as they chanted the Zenit victory song. All reservations about language barriers at this point aside (anyone else notice that when you're drunk, your second language skills improve significantly?), we approached them and asked them to teach us the song.
I learned it quite happily, only to forget it entirely upon waking with a pounding head the next morning.
Complete with hangovers, we regretfully left St. Petersburg, a place that will be difficult to beat in my travels for most engaging city, and it was off to Moscow.
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