What shall I say?.. It was an interesting month. On the one hand, I had two trips, including a holiday, and most of my summer memories belong there. On the other, by the end of August I was tired and somewhat lost my usual rhythm of studies (and life). So I ended up with the idea that holidays need not only proper preparation, but decent “digestion” as well, such as time to recover physically and follow up on some interesting things one has experienced.
Let’s start with the trips, then. I’ve got some beautiful photos to share =)
In the countryside
I’m not sure whether I’ve written about it already, but whenever I write about the countryside, it’s always me going to my paternal grandparents who have a datcha (or a Russian country house) pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The bus from the nearest town runs only twice a day, and you still need to walk to the house across the fields for around 45 minutes from the bus stop. That’s why I never use public transport there, I’m transported by my dad) The place is perfect for a detox (there’s no internet), and I never get tired of photographing nature.
This time, though, I first went to my best friend’s datcha, which is not far from my grandparents’ house and which is the place of my childhood as my grandparents used to have a smaller house there before their current one (and this is how I met my best friend – we played together as kids and our grannies were good friends). We talked the whole day through, made BBQ, walked around, but I also managed to sit quietly at the terrasse with Spanish for my Mini Marathon of Languages.
Two days later my dad came to pick us up and drive us to my grandparents. We continued with now longer walks in the fields and I also enjoyed riding a bike for the first time for a very long time along the country road with numerous dried-up ruts and bumps to add to the experience. Not sure I will mount a bike again any time soon, but that ride was fun =)
The next day was the day of delicious food – we experimented with humpback salmon and made it in three variations (simply fried, dredged in flour and fried, dredged in cream and flour and fried) and served it with mashed potatoes. Later we had a perfect, sweet and juicy, watermelon for dessert.
My dad is also into making rosebay willowherb tea (Ivan’s tea) by himself, so we shared a moment or two with my granny cutting the dry leaves of the herb to pass them on to the next stage of the process. I must note that I like this sort of tea very much and drink a lot of it, especially in the second half of the day, and I like dad’s tea too. Mixed with mint, black current dry leaves, it makes a perfect relaxing herb tea and brings back some summer memories.
Right, now to the next trip and our holiday.
This year we opted for a place known for its mineral water springs. Actually, there are five towns in the North Caucasus region close to each other – Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, Yessentuki, Zheleznovodsk and Mineralnye Vody, all of them with numerous spa resorts but slightly differing in the type of the springs and, hence, the type of ailments they cure.
Not that we needed to cure anything, it just seemed a good option with numerous natural parks to explore, mountains to climb and towns to see, and our friends and family recommended the place well. We chose Kislovodsk as probably the biggest of them.
The city itself sits between very low mountains, or rather hills, in the valley and surrounded by a huge park with routes of varying levels of difficulty. Below is me on top of one of the hills, a local sight of an eagle, an abandoned swimming pool we discovered, a view from another hill and the structure the previous photo was taken from.
Having explored the nearby park and local sights, we went to visit the house museum of Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), the great Russian opera singer with deep and expressive bass voice. I’m not a big fan of opera (and I didn’t really like the interiors) but I was deeply impressed by his portraits in different roles – one would think they were completely different people, such was his art of disguise. Have a look at some of them.
The same day we went to Pyatigorsk. This town has a different vibe, a more peaceful one, I’d say. Also, Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov was shot there in a duel in 1845, so there places and museums dedicated to him, but we didn’t have much time to explore them. Some photos came out quite good though.
Finally, we went to the “real” mountains, and that was a real treat for the eyes. First we explored Arkhyz mountain which is also a winter ski resort (but ther wasn’t much to do except admire the views) and then we had a 3-hour hike in the vicinity, up and then down a mountain, passing some horses along the way. The views there were fantastic too, I only regret that we were short of time and had to walk at a faster pace to finish before the dark.
The other highlights of the trip were me reading Russian magazines, which I hadn’t done for years, and watching Russian TV culture programmes (likewise). Both were a good rest and pretty inspiring. There’s something very relaxing and holiday like in flicking through a magazine, looking at pictures here and there and picking up an article to read. As it is in watching about Russian architectural jewels built in the 19th century for the royal family or listening about prominent Russian art figures and their life. Shall I bring more Russian into my life, then?.. Right now it’s not among my go-to languages for videos. Hm..
The downside of our holiday: again we walked a lot and my muscles complained loudly. So when I was finally home, it took me almost three weeks to recover and go back to my previous plans and activities. I didn’t like the climate of the place either, too humid and stuffy it was for me. Plus, the whole region is much better explored by car, so I don’t think we’ll be coming back any time soon.
In between the trip I finished with my Mini Marathon of Languages – I studied Spanish, German and English for three days each and shared my thoughts with the small audience I have on Telegram and on VK. In short, it was interesting and I really liked to focus on something and do it as properly as I wanted, but I got tired, so for the next time I’ll need a different strategy.
I was also somewhat disappointed by my “capacity” to immerse into languages. I didn’t think I’d get tired of studying so much. But it was also due to me being ill, possibly with covid, at the end of July, so I wasn’t fully recovered when I went to the countryside and this coincided with my language studies.
So, by the end of August I was tired all over and decided to try scrapbooking to see if it could help to recharge my batteries. Well, what an exciting activity! =) I’ve always been a big aficionado of stationary and stickers in particular, and in August I decided to go all-in)
Really, it seems I have finally allowed myself to a) spend money on “useless stuff” and b) spend time on “not doing anything useful”. Come to think of it, I’ve never had a real hobby like this – all my other interesting always involved some sort of development in either the technique, like dance or playing the piano, or in acquiring new knowledge, as with languages. With scrapbooking I really can’t see any “development”, which is such a relief =) I gues I have found how to rest my mind from thinking, languages and worries of any sorts =)