Monday and Wednesday are holidays this week and the breakfast buffet was closed which meant going to another dining room next door and attempting to order some food. I’ve learned some easy words so far. Kofe is coffee and che is tea. But after that I resort to pointing at the item on the very limited menu which is only a tent sign about 4 inches high sitting on the table which has a few items in English on one side, and the same in Russian on the other. So I point to eggs and, learning from yesterday’s experience, I also point to tomatoes, cheese, and ham, knowing they’ll make this into a sort of omelet. I say sort of because the eggs are just over easy, rather than scrambled. And then the other ingredients are under and over the eggs.

A plate arrives with two rolls, no butter. I decide I don’t need it anyway. The eggs will have enough of that. Coffee arrives… More of an espresso, and I’ve become used to using two sugar cubes from the covered bowl with tongs on the lid, and two creams. It is very strong, but there is a nice reward as one reaches the bottom of the cup and the last sugars not previously dissolved provide a sweetened coffee syrup for the last gulp.

My eggs and juice arrive… No fresh fruit this morning. But this is a filling breakfast and I don’t plan to have lunch today. I’ve done this a few days now since breakfast comes with the room and it is generally very good.

As I make my way through my meal, I read from my iPad a few more lessons in Russian. Although I’m beginning to see patterns, my ability to recall the right words in a speedy fashion is nil. So I resort to Please (pazhalusta) and thank ou (Spasibo) a lot. Manners do matter!

To my surprise, my very attentive waitress arrives with a cup of fruit and yogurt, and another plate with two little honey cakes and something that looks like a small piece of tiramisu. OMG how shall I eat all this?

So… Asking for another cup of kofe, pahzalusta, I try out the yogurt. Good. But a little “grainy”… The best word I can use to describe it. Next, with a bigger cup of kofe arriving, Amerikanska style, I try one of the tiny honey cake muffins. Good… And strangely more satisfying towards the end of the bite… as if the sweetness expands in your mouth. I can eat no more.

All the while, the attentive waitress comes by on occasion to clear an empty plate or, as an aside I found amusing, grabbing a well used paper napkin. Each restaurant I’ve been to has a very purposeful display of folded small single-layer paper napkins. Sometimes, if not just plain white, colors are alternated as the paper napkins folded in triangles are tipped alternately, as well, creating a sort of fan design.

Looking at the little cake, I begin to think “boy that little tiramisu might be nice tonight with a cup of tea.” Checking to see that I was alone in the dining room, I used one of the napkins to lightly wrap the little cake, and then head back to my room to put it in my little fridge for later.

My sleep patterns have been so erratic that I find myself too tired to get up and head out for dinner at a “normal” hour. Yesterday I smartened up a little and, while at lunch at a very fine restaurant known for its pyroghi (stuffed pies), I ordered a slice of a savory pie to go. Based on the recommendation of my host, I tried one filled with sautéed cabbage. I enjoyed it later last night, but couldn’t finish it for it was almost too rich because of all the butter used. Heating it up wasn’t hard. I use the electric kettle loaned to me by my host and steam the food after the water has boiled and the kettle shut off.

Packaging was special, too, as my pie came wrapped and tied with brown ribbon. The dough was also very decorative making a lovely sculptural design on top.

Because the password for my Internet is constantly changing – and a separate login is needed for my iPhone and iPad – I had to visit the front desk of the hotel last night at 9 pm to pick up new logins. So I decided to check what was at the bar. Empty- it was Sunday night after all – I asked for “room service” to take a bottle of sparkling water back to my room. Some homemade chocolates enticed me so I asked for some of those too, and they were carefully put on a plate for me to take back to my room. I took the requisite paper napkins since my room has only the min. number of towels.

Today, I don’t head out til 2 pm and will visit a monastery. More on that later.

But just as an aside, the daylight has been rapidly expanding here. Sunrise is generally now around 5:50 am and getting a little earlier each day. Sunset is now closer to 10 pm… and it’s only May! No wonder I’m having some trouble getting on the right time zone!

Da svedanya for now!

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