Monday, March 15, 2010

Nizhny Novgorod: ions better than the toilet in a Newport mansion

This weekend I went to Nizhny Novgorod, the fourth largest city in Russia. I have been there three times before, all at night, but really only at a train station to get on a train, or to get into a car going between Moscow and Zavolzhye. I described those combined ten minutes spent in Nizhny as going to a Newport Mansion but only seeing the bathroom.
In my wildest dreams I never thought it would be such a beautiful city, and it is a shame that I have not spent more time there.

The city is made up of two large regions, the Upper City and the Lower City, divided by the Oka River. It is said that the city is built on hills, and that it is. The Upper part is the oldest part of the city, and set up on a giant hill, where you can go to the embankment and see for miles into the distance. The Lower City is newer and less expensive to live in, but also still historic. As a city, Nizhny offers more than 600 unique historic, architectural, and cultural monuments in the city, which gave UNESCO a reason to include it in its top 100 cities of the world which are of great cultural and historical value.

Saturday I drove up with Mike (Sasha), Lena, and Mike Haynes for a day trip of sightseeing. We stopped at their favorite restaurant, in English translated to “Eater,” and enjoyed new Russian tastes. Then we drove around the Upper City, seeing the embankment, multiple churches, and the awesome bridges that the city has. We stopped into an art gallery and walked through the modern art showcase, which was so interesting. I am not sure of the artist being featured, but the colors and textures of his pieces were just so catchy. Then we walked around the Kremlin, which is the main government area. This is cool because it has kind of a castle wall going around it, and there are many interesting things inside the walls- like the eternal flame, beautiful church building, and cool views of the surrounding area.

Mike and Lena new of a concert going on, so we bought tickets. It was such a great performance. The main feature was a talented violinist from St. Petersburg, along with the Nizhny Orchestra. The musician was incredibly talented, and there were time when people clapped for ten minutes to try and get him to come back out and perform some more. In the crowd, there was a lady with purple hair.

Afterwards I met up with my friend Asya, who I met last week when the student team was here- she was our interpreter. We all split ways and I went home with Asya. Her family is so awesome, and it really was an encouragement to spend time with them. While she is the only fluent English speaker, I felt right at home with them. Her cute little sister put on a “concert” for me, which consisted of a Michael Jackson-esque dance to a Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. It was hilarious. Then we stayed up late watching Pirates of the Caribbean (in English!).
The next morning I went with her family to their church, a ten year old Vineyard Church plant in the Upper City, close to their home. Since the church is made up of so many nationalities with English and Russian being the common languages, the service is craftily combined using the two languages. The worship music is both English and Russian, and then the American pastor has a Russian interpreter. It was a good sermon, and the people were so kind and welcoming.
Asya, her friend Anya, and I walked to the embankment, where we could truly see the lower city in all its glory. It was soo cool, as there was a bridge that sits between two cliffs. So cool.

Then sadly, it was time for me to get on the bus to come back to Zavolzhye! Thanks to the bus driver for telling me what station to get off, and Pastor Sasha for picking me up=)