So today, I spent time with my sister’s friends at McDonalds and the nifty shopping center next-door to it. Apparently, there’s an arcade there, which I find really cool. There’s a teddy-bear kid version of DDR to children’s songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “London Bridge”. There were several racing games, and the classic table hockey stations. I am so happy about the latter, a familiar game.
I also caught up with Tamara for an hour, which was really nice, because I began to miss conversing in English. She told me she felt the same way about Italian. While we sat outside the cafe, there was also a small incident with 3 middle school-aged boys. I suppose they found our lack of Russian conversational skills funny, but it was a bit annoying when they pulled out a cellphone to record us. I am not sure whether they were trying to be friendly or menacing, but either way, there was no harm done after all. Hopefully, their video clip stays offline.
Later that day, the girls in the family headed to the Banya! It was much hotter than expected, that I could only spend maybe 2 minutes in the steam room each time, and the tradition about beating the birch tree and bay-leaf branches to simulate the blood—yes, that was totally awesome. My youngest host sister loves the banya, and I would have to agree; it’s more than an extended shower and more than a sauna. I would say that it is also a lot different from a Western style spa; here, you service yourself rather than having attendants wait on your whims. What a great experience!