Tag Archives: Russia

The lame and acclaim of the Sochi games

8 Feb

I feel as though I need to comment on the Sochi games. I obviously know a whole lot about Russia (I’ve written one and a half blog posts about the country) and sports (I covered one sports-related event for our local paper), so I’m pretty sure I qualify as an expert.

Suuuuure, expert.

At least, Olympic Bear thinks so.

So, without further ado, here’s some stories about the winter Olympics I gathered from various sources on the all-knowing Internet:

Russians have interesting toilets. There have been a ton of complaints/unbelief online about the toilets in the Olympic Village and surrounding areas. I find most of them amusing, if not stinking of first world problems (stinking…hehe). Check out this audience toilet…all I have to say is, at least the athletes aren’t being subjected to squatty potties!

Speaking of bathrooms…a U.S. bobsledder got stuck in one. And then he used his bobsled skills to kick the door down. Because no matter how hard-working and determined you may be, claustrophobia always wins.

gaga

(picture from Johnny Quinn’s Twitter)

The Jamaican bobsled team is calling themselves JamBob. Plus they opened up about training in Wyoming, their desire to bring sunshine and rhythm to the games, and money vs. heart in this article. Aww. In the words of Mr. Sunshine himself, “One love, one sled…let’s get in together and run all right.”

An Austrian athlete fell down during the opening ceremony, proving that even the most athletic of us can occasionally face plant for no reason at all. The only one looking very concerned about it is the guy front and left – “Uhhh guys, do I step over him, or wait, or what?!”

Courtesy of HuffingtonPost

Courtesy of the Huffington Post

There you have it, folks. Some of my favorite happenings so far from the Winter Olympics! And let’s not forget the awesomeness of countries getting together for friendly competition. Read here about the historical Olympic Truce and how it promotes worldwide peace. Three cheers for Sochi 2014!

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Rainbows, babushkas and too much honey

5 Mar

IMG_0760

Once again, it’s snowing, and dreams of steaming liquid kept interrupting my homework. Cocoa is too rich, tea gets boring after awhile and contrary to popular belief, I try to limit my coffee intake somewhat. So an internet search revealed a few interesting international brews (one of which being Tibetan butter tea, which I’ll, um, save for another time…). I sifted through and landed on Russian sbiten, mostly because that whole meteor/asteroid thing last week was SO. COOL.

I’m kind of embarrassed by how little I know about Russia, considering that it’s the largest country in the whole world. Mostly my mind goes to what I’ve learned from America media, which is obviously never wrong: Vodka. Snow. Movie villains. Gulag. Stalin. KGB. All that good stuff.

Any culture with churches that could be the "end goal" in Candyland, I am into!

I say, any culture with rainbow churches is awesome! (photo cred: Obscurus Nox)

I really don’t know where I would begin if I was planning a visit to Russia. I’m a city girl, so for vacation, I would probably head to Moscow or St. Petersburg. I also love mountains, though, and the Ural range has everything a nature-lover could want!  Skiing, caving, hiking, ice fishing, rafting and even dog sledding! Seems legit.

After a long day of hiking in high elevations, I can imagine wanting some sbiten. Ah, heat you can drink! I was immediately attracted to this drink above the others because 1) it’s sweet and 2) it has jam and 3) I had all the ingredients on hand (it’s icy outside, y’all!).

Sbiten has been around for seven centuries and comes from the word sbit – to beat or pound – because Russians in the 14th century had to make their own spices with a mortar instead of buying the fancy “pre-ground” stuff from Kroger (thanks for reminding me how soft and spoiled I am, 14th-century Russians!).

The drink was pretty good. Very close to hot mulled cider, although my honey hand was a little heavy and thus, the sbiten was too sweet. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime; it’s simple to make (boil water, or if you’d like, red wine. Add spices, honey and jam. Let simmer awhile. Done!).

dubious, yet glamorous babushka

This dubious, yet glamorous, babushka said she’s had worse sbiten before, so…success!

If you’re in an adventurous mood and have ten minutes to make sbiten, go for it! And while you’re at it, you can read this lovely quote from Lonely Planet that will have your heart yearning for a plane ticket to Asia:

“For centuries the world has wondered what to believe about Russia. The country has been reported variously as a land of unbelievable riches and indescribable poverty, cruel tyrants and great minds, generous hospitality and meddlesome bureaucracy, beautiful ballets and industrial monstrosities, pious faith and unbridled hedonism. These eternal Russian truths coexist in equally diverse landscapes of icy tundra and sun-kissed beaches, dense silver birch and fir forests and deep and mysterious lakes, snow-capped mountains and swaying grasslands. Factor in ancient fortresses, luxurious palaces, swirly spired churches and lost-in-time wooden villages and you’ll begin to see why Russia is simply amazing.”