Today, we got to sleep in, and boy did it feel great. We set the alarm for 8:45 so we wouldn't miss the hotel's breakfast buffet (yesterday we did not get to partake . . .). After breakfast, we did a little souvenir shopping in the hotel and it the small mall that is part of the hotel. There was a toy store, a perfume shop, a few souvenir shops, a grocery store (Prisma), a cafe and about 7 shoe shops. Then we hung out in the lobby on our floor while we waited for our room to be cleaned (by the way, it's about 240 metres from the elevators to our room).
We were picked up along with the other couple at 2pm (we ate some chicken nuggets before we left). Traffic was so bad - it took 90 minutes to get to the children's home. This time, we were all ushered into the director's office. The other couple's 2 boys were fetched, and then they all headed off to make blinis, translator in tow. Stefan and I were left there not really understanding what was going on, except that the director wanted us to sit on the couch. Shortly after, Nastja came in and climbed onto our laps with kisses and hugs. I pointed to her backpack, so she went and got it and pulled out all her new surprises. While we were waiting for whatever was going to happen, she worked on the puzzle- and she is really good at puzzles! While the 3 of us are doing this, the teacher came in and sat at the computer, and our representative came in and was talking with the director. Every once in a while, someone would say something to us in Russian. Of course, only Nastja understood . . .
Eventually, we ended up in the hallway and someone brought Nastja's coat and hat. The Social Worker was ready to go, and the translator and rep as well. The 6 of us were going on a field trip. Remember that smile I wrote about? It turns out that while the adoption process was taking so long, the social worker was doing some work on Nastja's behalf. She is the sole heir to some property in a suburb outside SPB. If the adoption had been completed before some court hearings that took place in October, she would have had no right to it. Anyways, they took us out to see it this afternoon. Don't get too excited. Our princess's castle is a real fixer-upper. In fact, we couldn't even go inside . . . wasn't recommended. I did get a couple pictures (in the dark) and will post when I get home. Apparently, she remembers living there, but I'm not so sure . . . It will be several months before we can do anything with it - still lots of legal work to do . . .
Funny side story - on the way to the "castle" we were stopped for awhile in traffic - that's nothing new - but after awhile we noticed that cars were starting to honk - which is not so common here. Then we saw LOTS of police cars driving on the overpass in front of us . . . they were taking the exit and yielding onto the road in front of where we were stopped. Can you guess who it was? Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Were the drivers honking because they were happy to see him? Njet.
Back to the children's home, then immediately back out to get passport photos taken. When we got back to the home, again, we were told to take her to her group and then say our goodbyes. Her group was outside, so we dropped off her stuff in the playroom and then went out and met up with the group and nanny. I got pictures of the other children in her group and all their names. When we saw the others come out of the building, we said goodbye to Nastja. She asked if we were coming back tomorrow. Stefan showed 13 fingers and the nanny tried to explain what he meant by drawing figures in the snow. So cute. Many kisses and hugs later, we were gone.
The drive to the hotel took forever. We had dinner with the other couple again. Really nice people. It will be nice to be able to get together with them from time to time since we live fairly close to each other.
Well, I'm blogging and Stefan's sleeping. We have a 6:20 pickup tomorrow, so I should get to bed.
The outskirts of St. Pete
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.