Russia
Pskov

Here you’ll find travel reports about Pskov. Discover travel destinations in Russia of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

3 travelers at this place:

  • Day15

    Pskov

    January 19, 2017 in Russia

    Быть в гости translates as "to be a guest [in someone's house]". It's used to describe both guests from afar (e.g. myself in Pskov) and guests from down the road. I'd like to add in the origins of this phrase but they'd be totally made up so instead I'll add in this anecdote encase future me ever forgets his Russian and (again) starts to think he can't do languages.

    When I moved to Moscow I had an alright grasp of the case system but my Russian was on the whole pretty bad. I found a room online and after a chat with the flatmates for which I'd mentally pre-rehearsed the lines "If you help me practice by chatting with me, I'll cook your dinner", I moved in. The cat didn't like me.

    Once I’d moved in I'd always say hi to my flatmates, ask how they were* and ask how their day was going. My flatmates would respond and I'd smile and nod and not know understand what they were saying. Once, in the first few weeks, I remember one of my flatmates describing his day and saying "...в гости..." (‘v gosti’). It wasn't until a while later when my language teacher mentioned this phrase that I suddenly understood what he had said. Sorry Boris! Извините пожалуйста я не говорю по-русский.

    I'll return to that later.

    I arrived into Pskov at 8am and went to meet the couchsurfer ("Pskov") who had seen my public couch request** and offered me a place to stay. He was friendly; gave me keys to the flat; (he) had a tarantula and (his wife) had a chinchilla; they had a kid, that he'd mentioned, who turned out to be 10 days old. Finding this out I resolved to explore Pskov in a day then head off.

    Once I’d wandered around the Kremlin and observed an orthodox morning service; attempted to visit a flat that Lenin was based in during 1900 that’s is now a museum and, on that day, was closed for repairs due to a leaky roof; and eaten at an Italian restaurant my flatmates had recommended to me; I was already out of things to do. Fortunately, another couchsurfer ("Vera") had agreed to meet up with me so at 3pm her and her "парень" (boyfriend; "Misha") appeared. We went to go chat in ТиР (TiR) a pretty cool looking "underground" bar that I didn’t expect to find in a city known mainly because of its kremlin. The bar doubles up as a cafe, gig venue and club which, according to the posters, does punk n metal gigs and plays DnB, techno, and bassline.

    After wandering around the city together and hearing about my CS situation Misha offered me a place to stay the next day if I was still in town. That evening I asked about certificates hanging up on the flat; Pskov explained to me about his efforts to try and improve the situation for (motor)biking communities who apparently have a difficult time inflicted on them by Putin's favourite gang***. After realised the difficulty that could be caused for his work within the biking community he bought a gun that he now keeps locked up in the flat, just encase. Pskov now runs lectures trying to teach people about their rights as individuals, though he admitted they aren't as busy as they could be. His thoughts echoed what I'd already heard from a lot of people; that people in Russia don't want to get organised and fight for their rights. From other people this argument had been phrased more in terms of being lazy or simply not caring enough to want change****. We later sat and ate dinner with his wife, a tasty mix of boiled potatoes, pork and cabbage, together discussing life in our respective cities/countries. I’d already decided to take up Misha’s offer of a place to stay the next day.

    Arriving at Misha’s I was greeted by him and his mum (“Misha’s mum”) and, after asking how they both were, was immediately offered tea and lunch. They, she?, had already laid out several bowls of biscuits, chocolate, honey and jam (for sweetening tea)*****. Misha was a local Pskovian/Pskovite/Pskochanin/Pskovets and had studied music at college, learning to how to play the bayan and the balalaika. Realising whilst still at college that he didn’t want to take up a career in music teaching, he now worked for a foreign telecoms company doing shift work “3 через 3” (3 on, 3 off) and was also learning how to code. After lunch we got a taxi to a dog shelter, picking up Vera enroute. Vera and Misha did explain to me, twice, about why they started visiting the shelter. There was definitely something to do with a competition that Vera didn’t win but afterwards she wanted to visit the shelter and take the dogs for walks when she could. (Edit: Turns out she did win the competition, I just misheard the "didn't".) At this point I still struggle to remember the finer details of conversations I have in Russian. I think it’s cause there’s too many new words and my memory schemas are structured in English so things probably get lost in translation and, possibly, encoding. I’ve never taken a dog for a walk before and am usually terrified of dogs, this time was no different as I apparently looked pretty scared when we first entered the shelter... Fortunately my chosen dog was docile and happy to just stand next to me or walk along at my pace; I named it Buddy, I recently found out it’s real name is Дельта (‘Delta’), I prefer Buddy. Apparently the dog shelter rescues dogs from the city and surrounding area though Russia lacks strong laws to protect animals and lacks charities to help support them. I don’t know what happens to the dogs in the long run but they certainly had quite a few in there of various types, ages and in various conditions from earless to eerily lifeless.

    Another trip to ТиР later, this time for blini - still no bassline though they were setting up for a gig to celebrate their something-teenth birthday, we went to Vera’s to help dispose of her ёлка (‘yolka’; new year’s tree). Vera works for the same company as Misha, it’s where they met, though she works “2 через 2” (2 on, 2 off). Shift work’s screwed up her sleeping pattern but in her spare time she does some pretty awesome drawing/painting. Originally from Murmansk, she’d lived in Pskov since she was a kid and studied foreign language teaching (German and English) at the local university. Teacher’s salaries though aren’t fantastic and she, and Misha, would like to try and live abroad, possibly in Georgia first then, if possible, somewhere in Europe.

    Ёлка disposed of, we arrived back at Misha’s where his mum had set up the front room ready for me to sleep in and his dad (“Misha’s dad”) had returned back from work. Already of retirement age, his dad chose to continue working at the factory and enjoyed watching TV in the evenings (today was Trump’s inauguration). Once we’d eaten dinner the biscuits, chocolate and tea was broken out again and Misha’s mum excitedly told me about the bits of Russia she’d visited and recommended places I should go to, Misha went to sleep. Hearing that her favourite shows on tv were travel programmes particularly about India the tv was turned off and I broke out pictures from my previous travels. Misha’s dad then showed me pictures taken near their dacha outside of Pskov including ones of them foraging for mushrooms. I woke up the next morning and packed my bag ready to catch a bus to Veliky Novgorod. Misha’s mum had made breakfast and before I left gave me some biscuits for the journey. Handshakes and hugs later I set off to the bus station.

    Three n a bit months after arriving in Moscow I now understand understand what быть в гости, can, mean and I finally have enough Russian to chat about mushrooms when I get there. Oh and me and Kot (the cat) are totally friends now.

    --

    Вера, Миша, Мама и Отец Миши – спасибо за всё. Я рад что мы встретились и надеюсь мы ещё встретимся, может быт осенью чтобы ехать на дачу и собирать грибы!

    --

    * I've since learnt that asking "Как дела?" (How are you/How are your things?) is less customary in Russian culture and people save this for their "круг" (circle/close friends) as they expect the question to be answered honestly. I continue to ask it but I've definitely had some odd looks in response. I think people see it as me being either; British, people are aware of the British custom of not answering the above honestly; trying to make an effort; or stupid.

    ** Couchsurfing has public and private requests. The former works like a bulletin board, post your trip online and people may message you. The later you write directly to potential hosts. I'd only ever done the later though am doing the former as well in Russia as their CS community seems pretty active, welcoming and apparently I'm interesting enough to want to meet up with! YAY!

    *** I think he means these guys. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/putins-angels-inside-russias-most-infamous-motorcycle-club-20151008

    **** That said, some people can and do try but this can end quite badly for those individuals https://meduza.io/en/feature/2016/11/01/10-12-people-would-beat-me-all-at-once-kicking-me

    ***** This day marks the start of my (sociable) tea drinking in Russia.
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  • Day295

    Дурак и дороги #17

    October 26, 2017 in Russia

    Pskov - Pskov
    0km

    It first snowed during my trip exactly a month ago. Today, half the country later, the snow finally arrived in Pskov. All the same, or so I thought, it's only 300km to St Petersburg, surely that can be covered, even on a snowy day?

    I packed up my bag, we fed yet again by Valentina Mikhailovna and headed to the bus stop. Outside the snow was already several inches thick on the ground and the gutters were a dirty slushy mess that, for those of us who've managed bust open their third pair of shoes in under a year, required hopping over. I rode the bus across town, using the opportunity to put on all my extra layers, and got off at Ленинградское Шоссе (Leningradskoe Shosse), the road that runs directly into St Petersburg. One kilometre up the road was my previously chosen starting spot - a bus stop next to a petrol station.

    The snow kept falling.

    Approaching the petrol station I realised my chosen bus stop was blocked off by road workers and the entire road and pavement were covered in snow or slush bar the two lanes cut out by the moving traffic. I probably shouldn't have been surprised given none of the roads in town had yet been cleared. A wooden palette was lying by the roadside, I think covering a drain, so, after kicking the snow away, I set down my rucksack and broke out the sign. The red painted letters on the reverse side had started to bleed and before long I was stood holding the now very battered sign up as red paint rubbed off against my jacket and car after car drove by, kicking dirt up as they went. I put my bag back on to keep warm. An hour and a half passed.

    Turning around I noticed a man in workman's overalls walking across the forecourt carrying a coffee cup. Aleksei, himself from St Petersburg, had been in the area for a while now repairing this very stretch of road. He handed me the coffee and wished me good luck. Feeling somewhat rejuvenated by the minty-fresh taste of kindness I folded the now damp sign away and stuck my thumb out, hoping this change of tactic would produce results. Maybe the sign had confused everyone and they'd thought I was merely searching for a British hitchhiker traveling across Russia rather than was the very fool myself.

    I'm pretty sure I was stood in the lay-by, it was hard to tell given all the snow. I'd already reasoned that slowing down to pick me up would be difficult, though not impossible, and kept turning round hoping to see the slushy space behind me occupied by a waiting car rather than just gradually filling up with more and more snow. A while later I reasoned there must have been a coffee machine in the petrol station, hence Aleksey’s gift, so went inside to warm up and fill up my water-bottle-cum-hand-warmer. Inside I got chatting to Anya, the middle aged Moldovan cleaner who’d previously looked smiled when I’d turned around to let her read my sign.

    Over the following several hours we were to have many such chats as I wandered in and out of the snow, watching car after car drive past. On one such occasion she passed me a pack of paper-towels suggest I use them to dry my hair - about that time I realised if snow is falling around you it is probably also falling on you at probably the same rate – and on other occasions she tried asking drivers for lifts though seemingly no one was heading to St Petersburg, no one with space anyway.

    Anya seemed to know most of the customers, having worked in the petrol station for the past 10 years, and at some point said to me something along the lines of ‘people around here see someone with darker skin and dark hair and think they're Syrian and/or a terrorist’. Presumably she'd heard this from one of the customers, or had just thought it up herself. Amusingly(?) I had already wondered about this myself and had avoided putting on my towel-cum-neck-warmer for fear of someone thinking I was a Syrian terrorist (this was the precise form of terrorist I imagined people would mistake me for) and calling the anti-terrorism hot-line I'd heard read out on the radio on the bus that morning. This is Western Russia, spitting distance from the infamous Velikiy Novgorod. The darkest thing people round here tend to see, especially on a snowy day, is their own shadow which, given time, would probably be interviewed by the FSB after someone watched a bit too much fear-inducing Russian news and got twitchy about it always following them about. Surprisingly by now having someone making terrorist references about me isn't actually all that alarming. Anya herself was only saying what she thought other people might think then she criticised how closed off Russian people are to strangers. Unlike Moldovans.

    Time passed. Snow fell. No one stopped and all the drivers in the petrol station seemed to be either local, have a full car or be female.

    Misha, my friend in Pskov, invited me back to stay with him and his parents again so, six hours after leaving, I headed back, this time covering the first few kilometres into town in a car Anya had secured me a space in - my only hitch that day. After jumping over the now yard long puddle near Misha’s flat I saw his dad (Valeriy Kapitonovich) walking down the road smiling at me, evidently amused at my unexpected return.

    Back in the flat Valentina Mikhailovna heated up some food, offered me tea and asked if I wanted to take a shower to warm up. I may not have gone anywhere, my first 0km day, but at least I had my adoptive Russian grandparents to stay with once more and, most definitely, wouldn't be going hungry. I imagine that’s what Napoleon lacked, his adoptive Russian grandma on standby to feed him up and check he wasn’t catching a cold.
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  • Day15

    50 Shades of Grey #16

    January 19, 2017 in Russia

    улица Ленина 3.

    Дедушка Ленин жил здесь недолго и писал газету Искра.

    Теперь музей но был закрыт для ремонта.

  • Day299

    Captain's Log Day #70

    October 30, 2017 in Russia

    Last time I was in this sector I came across a pair of Pskovites; as the locals are known, to me at least. Promises were made to return, especially to one of the elder’s. By starting in the East rather than the West I massively mistimed my arrival in Pskov to not coincide with the much-fabled mushroom season but, instead, my trip by chance coincided with the release of a potentially soon-to-be classic Russian feature film “Крым” (Crimea). It was hailed in the UK press, The Guardian at least, as ‘the big budget Russian blockbuster the world will never get to see’ as it portrayed a Russian perspective on the situation in Ukraine. Precisely why it isn’t, if that’s even true, shown in foreign countries I’m not sure, maybe because it was filmed on disputed territory, either way, I might’ve missed the mushrooms but I’d at least get to watch what I thought would be the Russian Pearl Harbour.

    Not that I realised this beforehand but Крым is a pseudo-historical account of the events in Ukraine leading up to when Russian forces took control of Ukrainian military positions on the peninsula. I remember reading the (British) news about this at the time and was fully expecting a full scale international conflict to erupt at any moment and that national element, in the sense that the British press rarely seems to present a Russian perspective on things, is key perhaps to my interpretation, and visceral reaction, to this film.

    Крым was in Russian so I definitely missed some bits and might’ve misinterpreted other bits, as with all my interactions whilst in Russia but it went a bit like this. (Ethnic) Russian man woos (ethnic) Ukrainian woman in Crimea. Next comes the Euro Maidan protest; protestors are behind the barricades, prepared for violence but at the time singing together peacefully, Russian guy visits Ukrainian girl who’s joined the protest, protestors get shot at, conflict ensues. Cut to scene of protestors clashing with police, Ukrainian girl’s packing petrol bombs into a backpack, Russian man smashes them then goes to help a Berkut (Ukrainian special police) officer who’s been set on fire. The story develops from there; two lovers torn apart by a feud along ethnic lines. The film explicitly dramatizes events, which supposedly happened, that involved Ukrainian nationalists trying to start/spread the violence into the peninsula, leaving the Russian military with no choice but to act, even without orders from above. The climax of the film comes when a Ukrainian nationalist infiltrates a Ukrainian army base and directs father of our Russian protagonist to blow up a Russian military plane – an explicit attempt to start an international conflict. Dad refuses, Russian protagonist saves the day and, interlaced with this, the ‘little green men’ (Russian military) who’ve left their naval base have persuaded the Ukrainian military to leave their base…admittedly on threat of killing the commanding officer and his staff, but they don’t really focus on that bit.

    I could write a more detailed account of the film but I lack the adjectives so should anyone who happens to read this actually want to see it just go find it online, Russian’s love not paying for things (true story) so it’s probably not very hard to find, though would be still be in Russian.

    In my opinion, it was a pretty decent film, nothing to write home about – irony intended – but not total crap. ‘Better than Pearl Harbour’ is my official review. Though it lacked any Michael Bay style explosions the music evoked the sort of visceral reaction that makes you yourself want to explode as your blood boils in a fit of anti-patriotic rage. I can see why the Russian defence department loved it, they probably wanted to explode with pride.

    At the end of the film there’s a dedication to, this may not be word for word but the meaning was translated for me by Misha, ‘The Russian and Ukrainian soldiers who helped solve ‘the problem’ [this bit might’ve been phrased differently] without any shots fired’. [That’s not true, I recall one Ukrainian serviceman dying, maybe he wasn’t shot though.] This dedication, however phrased, seems pretty important to me to understanding the entire point of the film. It turns out it wasn’t a film about Ukraine as a whole. It also wasn’t a film about the conflict in the East. It also, in actual fact, wasn’t a film about how Crimea transferred (back) over to Russia. It was a film about Ukrainian and Russian brotherhood and about trying to justify and provide a story for the events surrounding the ‘Little Green Men’.

    After watching it Misha and I went to grab some food and discuss the film. At the time I couldn’t properly put my finger on it, aside from holding back the desire to explode, but a few days later I wrote this about it.

    1. The film presents the story out of context – no explanation was provided for why Maidan started, though at least it indicated the violence was not started by demonstrators. Additionally, it doesn’t discuss the result of the events in Crimea for the wider conflict in Ukraine, international dispute (between Russia and ‘the West’), the referendum on the Peninsula, etc.

    2. The film makes situation in Crimea seem look like it was solely done to protect the area from Ukrainian (nationalist) forces and Russian forces ‘heroically’ acted for the greater good – without questioning Russia’s right to act in such a way or whether such actions were necessary to prevent conflict. The end dedication, to both Ukrainian and Russian forces, seems like a perverse way to describe a situation that, even within the films fictionalised(?) version of events, amounted to Russian soldiers deliberately breaking international rules and giving the Ukrainian army no option other than to surrender for fear of starting an international war.

    3. The final scene shows the Russian protagonist (from Sevastopol) and Ukrainian protagonist (from Kiev?) talking on the phone. He sounds like he’s in a war-zone, presumably Eastern Ukraine, and possibly just got shot helping to immortalise all (‘separatist’) fighters in Eastern Ukraine as heroes, fighting to protect the country from Ukrainian nationalists.

    I have other problems with the film but, after spending so much time in Russia and getting out of my ‘Western’ (or whatever) bubble, that’s not quite the point. As it stands neither Russia nor the UK have a totally unbiased press. Neither has any interest in presenting stories fairly, aside from perhaps a moral desire – but who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? This film was unabashedly pro-Russian. A pro-Ukrainian film would probably highlight and play down different events.

    There is no great conclusion to make really. This is one-sided history. The kind of thing favoured by governments (and people) that love the idea of simple stories, goodies and baddies and music that makes you want to (un)spontaneously combust. If that was the directors aim then he achieved it. Молодец.

    ---

    It’s probably worth noting that Misha, who I’d describe as hardly a Russian nationalist, thought it was alright in message and wasn’t overtly propagandist. He did though think the acting was dire and that Pearl Harbour must’ve been better but as it’s an accepted fact that the only good thing about Pearl Harbour is Cuba Gooding Jr., Misha’s probably wrong, about the acting at least. Sorry Misha.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Pskov, Pleskau, Pskof, بسكوف, Горад Пскоў, Пльсковъ · Рѡсїи, Pskovo, Pihkva, پسکوف, Pihkova, פסקוב, Pszkov, Պսկով, PKV, プスコフ, ფსკოვი, 프스코프, Pscovia, Pskovas, Pleskava, Псков ош, Pskow, Psków, Псков, ปัสคอฟ, 普斯科夫

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