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Saturday, 6 October 2018

My Russia Memoirs; My Thoughts, Impressions and Experiences, By Amb Adichie Izuchukwu

Part 2.

By Amb Adichie Izuchukwu

EXPECTATIONS: I was really expecting a picture-perfect-city, since Peter the Great, lived and died there. He was the founder of Saint Petersburg. I wanted a city that would make me feel the impulse to reach to my camera always, a city of quality. What more could I have asked for? Was I struck by the incredible beauty of what I saw?

I was really intimidated with the captivating looks of the city. It is a city built on a river with different Islands, a pleasingly striking city, with an incredible architectural finishing, classic artworks, picturesque churches, alluring watercourse, fascinating bridges and subways which keeps blowing me away. The subways were highly decorated with incredible sculptures, well fitted-tiles and beautified with expensive lights and surveillance cameras even in restrooms.
I tried to forget the unfriendly and hard time at the immigration stand at Domodedovoa, which made me feel skeptical towards the Russians this was further heightened by the language barrier. Generally, the locals were unfriendly as they neither spoke nor smiled at visitors at the airport, metro or on the street. The friendly ones were the English speaking Russians who were a bit humorous. This was surprising  because I didn't expect to find wide-spread English speakers in the land of PUTIN, and for those worried about communicating in cities like Moscow, St. Petersburg and Volgograd, I actually encountered more English speaking Russians than I anticipated, especially within the FIFA Fan Zone, FAN ID Centres, Stadia, Streets, Markets, Tourist sites and Malls. I never bothered learning the Cyrillic alphabet, I only learnt the few key Russian phrases.
FLASHBACK: On arrival at the Pulkovo Airport, a desk officer in charge of the taxi stand helped us book an uber which drove us to Hilton Saint Petersburg Hotels. The Expo Forum is situated at Peterburgskoye Highway, 62 Building 1, Saint Petersburg. There, I met and had eight hours meeting with my principal, Dr. Ubah, the man with the magic wand, after which I had a meal. My principal had arrived Russia a day before my arrival, on board British Airways with his family.

Hilton is anchored in St. Petersburg ExpoForum – one of the five largest exposition centers in the world, offering a wide range of indoor and outdoor functional services. It has proximity to major business clusters and other iconic St. Petersburg attractions. There are site restaurants, bars and recreational amenities, including a spa, sauna, pool and fitness center created to help their guests unwind after a busy day.

Although I arrived the Russian Federation in a mood of pleasant anticipation. The trip was something else for me. Night was fast approaching. I was totally blown away by the weather conditions because I hadn't experienced such before. I was exposed to something different, from what I'm used to in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. It was a strangely beautiful exposure.

WHITE NIGHT: St. Petersburg is home to The White Night which makes the beauty of St. Petersburg glow at night. It never gets completely dark at high latitudes outside the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

In the midst of all these, I felt totally at home, having the over fifty-three contingents of Football Made in Anambra project around me, strategizing, shopping and stocking the  refrigerator and kitchen cabinets with all sorts of Africa dishes.

It was an unimaginable and exciting moment to feel at home. They was so much to see and do in Russia, walking down the wide streets, seeing the baroque buildings and trolleybuses, walking under tunnels, taking selfies with other visitors, making live videos of enchantments, seeing my favorite footballers like ex-football legend; Ronaldinho of Brazil, Samuel Eto, etc., FIFA President; Gianni Infantino, CAF President; Ahmad Ahmad and other top football Administrators including, Isreali Prime Minister, Binyamin (Benjamin) Netanyehu. I also took note of the organized traffic management system and air tight security. No officer carried live ammunitions throughout my stay in Russia.

SECURITY: All fortresses are equipped with safe doors. There are video surveillance systems at the entrance of most apartment buildings and inside the vestibule which helps to prevent crime. All apartment building entrances are equipped with either a code lock or a key fob lock. If you do not know the code or do not have a key fob to open the door, you call the apartment and your host ushers you in.

Part 3 to be cont'd....

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