Sunday, July 6, 2008

hard to say good-bye

This post is about 28.05.2008.

Vlad picked us up at 9:15 again this morning. We were supposed to be at the orphanage at 10 so we could be there for a couple hours and then leave to make our 1pm meeting at the notary's. Well, traffic was really bad, so we didn't get there until 10:25. Again, we were armed with more gifts all around. Both days we brought fresh fruit for Anastasia and her playgroup.

We met Anastasia in her playroom. I gave her the doll we had bought in Finland as well as the hairbands from Doris and the photo album I put together. The caregiver told Vlad that as she was falling asleep last night, she was saying, "Mama. Mama. Where are you?" One of her playmates, Vanja, had told the others, "Nastia's got good parents."

We took the gifts outside to the playground. Vlad gave us a few minutes alone with her and I started showing her the pictures in the photo album. She pointed out "Mama", "Papa" in all of them and I showed her Sam, Mattias and Joel, but she wouldn't say their names. After about 5 minutes, she was done and just wanted to run around and play. After awhile, the teacher came out and told Vlad that the director had given us permission to take Anastasia "off-grounds" if we wanted. So, we took her to a little cafe. It was fun in the car. She enjoyed it so much - she kept looking back and forth at us with a big smile on her face.

Vlad helped us order. She picked out something that looked chocolatey (but he said was potato-based) and apple juice. She didn't really like the potato-chocolate thing and ended up eating the rest of Stefan's pastry. She had brought her presents along in the car. She told us she will name the doll Masha.

Back at the orphanage, Anastasia joined her playgroup outside while Stefan and I spoke with the doctor and Tatiana again - we wanted to clarify some things that had been said yesterday. Then, we went down to Anastasia's play room and said goodbye to her there. There were lots of kisses and hugs. According to Vlad, she told us to finish what we have to do quickly and come back. A few tears later, we left.

From there we drove to the Notary Public's office to sign some papers. We were met by a fellow named Gregory who was able to be our translator for the meeting. Then we waited outside the office for Galina, who was running a little late from another appointment. When she arrived we drove to the Hotel Moskva, where Galina had to meet Tina, Save the Children's director in St. Pete. Tina came out to the car to meet us. She told us that she had already met Anastasia. Then we drove Galina to a municipal office where she had to drop off some papers. While we were driving, Galina said that Anastasia will probably be the most beautiful girl in our town. After the municipal office, they took us to the train station where we said goodbye to Vlad and Galina. We ate lunch at the station which was a very confusing experience - nobody spoke English and it was a very strange ordering system! Finally, we were on the train for our trip back home. The trip to Helsinki was uneventful, but our seats to Bennäs were in the worst car on the train - full of young partiers. So, we found a conductor and moved into a sleeping car. Not that it was a restful sleep - I was so worried we'd sleep past our stop and end up in northern Finland!

I forgot to mention that when we checked out of the hotel, we only had one suitcase and one carry-on. We were able to put one suitcase inside the other and then fill it. We didn't have nearly as much stuff coming home. We would have had even less, but we brought home a bunch of food we had taken along. Remember, our last visits to Russia were so long ago, and we had had bad experiences with the food. So this time, we packed fresh fruit, snacks and drinks we thought we would need. However, nothing extra was needed because the food was delicious. The only thing we really used was the bottled water for brushing our teeth . . .

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The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.