Seurasaari

Today, I didn’t do any remote work at all, and in the morning, we met with my friend Natasha and her daughter (my goddaughter) Sonechka to take a walk on the island of Seurasaari. It is a huge open-air museum of traditional Finnish architecture, but you can’t enter the dwellings in winter. All you can do is walk around and admire them from the outside, which we gladly did.

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Summer 1996, Peterhoff

I have more pictures from that summer than I had for the whole previous year. It was a strange summer. Events that I described in the post How I decided to go to America happened at the very beginning of it, and then it was a long wait. I briefly mentioned in my other post, Getting ready to go to America, but there were months of uncertainty in reality. Only Boris and my mom knew that I was waiting for the papers, but I was trying to make most out of this summer with all uncertainty. 

We stayed in the University boarding house yet again, and I worked on Stylus documentation at night (My last job in Russia). In the daytime, I took kids to places almost every day. Vlad and Anna were already big enough to appreciate art. We took full advantage of that fact. It was a strange mixture of “I might not even get a visa,” “I am not going to leave forever, we will come back in two years, and I will be happy to come back,” and “I will never be back again.” In reality, none of these happened, but back then, I was frantically trying to squeeze into our days as much of the art and architecture. 

The Boarding house was relatively close to the palaces and parks of Peterhoff, Peter the Great summer residence. We often took a bus to spend a half-day there, enjoying the fountains and visiting palaces. My friend Olga, whose family lived in the same apartment building with us in Saint Petersburg, came to join us on this adventure. I think it was more than once, but I only have pictures from one of these occurrences. Here they are.

Vlad, Anna and Ania in the Upper Park of Peterhoff
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East Riverwalk Walking Tour

As I’ve expected, being just one a half-day past deadline with the previous chapter made me fall behind with the next one. I gave myself a half-day off last Sunday because we had our family gathering, and because I just needed to do something except for writing. And then, I went on this tour with Igor, and then I did a little bit of writing on Tuesday, and I had PUG on Wednesday. Long story short, I know exactly what to write in Chapter 6, but I am falling behind again.

So, because I need to take a break from writing the book, I want to write about this tour.
The Chicago Architectural Foundation resumed some walking tours back in June, but their schedule and mine did not agree for several months.

I still wanted to attend, but I didn’t want to go for the sake of going; I wanted to go on the tour I never been before. And the one which does not start at 10-30 AM on a weekday.

Finally, I signed Igor and myself to attend the East Riverwalk Tour. The Riverwalk is a new thing, and so is to tour, and I enjoyed it immensely. I took at least fifty pictures, which I had no time to process properly. And since I still want to show them, I am dumpling several Instagram posts from last week. The good part of inserting the Instagram posts is that each of these posts contains multiple pictures, so you can scroll them using the arrows on the left and right sides.

One of under the bridge passages, on the second photo, there are reflections of Igor and me 🙂
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Walking Chicago Loop

On Thursday, I took a long and speedy walk around the Loop intending to check which of the fast and not so fast food restaurants in the Loop had survived the lockdown. I already knew that to my deepest regrets, Pret left Chicago for good. It looks like the same thing happened with Cosi, so out of my to-go places, only Panera survived.

Also, although the sign on Toni’s door says, “we will return,” it does not look like it, which is very sad.
There are several new places on Michigan Avenue, maybe I will like some of them, but I miss Toni’s.
It looks like Jewelry’s Row has the most of the damaged shop windows, and most of the places are not only plywood-ed, but actually closed.

On a bight side – the city is full of people. Yes, it is far from the usual crowds in the time of peace, but equally far from the March emptiness. And as I already mentioned, 90% of people wear masks. Both of these facts make me optimistic :).

A socailly-distant line to the Art Institute – opening of the Monet Exhibit
Jewelers Row is almost empty, but the view of the turning L-train is as breathtaking, as ever
And no Trump can spoil this view!

A Date With My City

This week, I started to go to the office again, and for the next couple of weeks, I am planning to be in the city three times a week.

I can’t even start to describe how much I love being in the city. Coming to the office gives me a lot of structure. Yes, I am a very organized person, but I still do not know why, but I always get more things done in the office. Also, for many years, I used the time on the train as “my personal time.” It was always that I had almost two hours a day when I could reply to my personal emails, ce=heck the social media, write my own blog posts. And when I work from home, it is like: when I sit down at my desk, it means work.

Walking in the city feels different, as well. I do not know why. Today, my Apple Watch shows more than fifteen thousand steps, and it feels like nothing. When I am in the city, I walk fast, and nothing hurts.

On Tuesday, I had lunch with Vlad (belated birthday lunch), and I didn’t get to walk much, because I had to carve time between meetings. But today – I walked and walked.

I went to the Art Institute. The same El Greco exhibit, which I saw on my last visit to the museum before it closed, is open again, and I felt infinitely good looking at these amazing paintings.
Afterward, when I realized that I have over an hour till the next train, I headed to the Riverwalk (actually, I half-planned it to be that way). That way my first real date with my city after months being apart, and I was breathing in this twilight, and the opaque water surface…

Birthday lunch with Vlad
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Open House Chicago -Part 2

Continue to be a tourist in my own city – the first post is here.

The next stop on our Southside tour was Windsor Beach Apartments Co-Op. It was amazing that people allowed strangers to visit their apartments for two days in a row, and I extremely appreciative of that. The building dates back to 1928. The building is shaped as Maltese Cross, and in each “line” of the cross, apartments are shaped differently. The most interesting part is that each apartment has a separate room (and a full bathroom) for live-in servants. They had access to the kitchen but were not allowed to enter the main part of the apartment, unless they were ringed for.

The rooms are 100% – noise isolated from one another. Everything inside is so gorgeous, I can’t even tell!

The apartments are very cheap, because of the location – the SouthSide has a stigma, which is so wrong it this particular case! The building has security present at all times, and it owns a large property around the building and private beach.

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Open House Chicago – Part 1

Open House Chicago was taking place last weekend, and once again, no matter how busy I was, I wanted to go. And since the counter-protest took a big portion of my Saturday, we (Igor and I) decided to go on Sunday.

This year Igor planned for us to see the South Side locations. These days, people often think about the South Side as a dangerous place, which they would try to avoid by all costs. Meanwhile, historically, the center of Chicago was way more to the south than it is today, and the South Side has a very fashionable place (with no blacks allowed, of cause).

Unfortunately, I have no time to write in detail about all the places we’ve seen, but I am going to mention some highlights.

That was my first time visiting the Southshore Cultural Center, and for those who ever been there, it would be understandable that I was stunned.

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