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If you had lunch with a Russian family what was it like


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I think it's so odd that no one is answering this because there have been so many positive comments in the past. We did the lunch last September with Red October with our guide & another couple we had met thru this board prior to the cruise. It was a wonderful experience & my only regret was that it was such a relatively short visit. The apartment was old & crowded but very clean. It was up several flights of stairs & all the neighbors poked their heads out as we came in! Our hostess, a widow, taught English in the equivalent of middle school & had one adult son who was not at home at the time. She does these lunches to supplement her income because as a teacher she makes very little, and I believe she said she had a 3rd job as well. Her English was not great though I do think she would have done even better at talking with us had our guide not constantly tried to "help" her if you know what I mean. The conversation was so interesting (jobs, politics, pets, quite a wide range). The lunch was tasty & there were a number of items to choose from so if something didn't appeal to you, you were not conspicuous if you did not select that item. There was soup, several salads, chicken, potatoes, vegetable, dessert, and bottled water. Everything was homemade except I think she said she had bought dessert! There had been great debate on this board about whether tipping or giving a gift was appropriate, with some favoring gifts, some favoring cash, and some favoring nothing. We discussed it in advance & each couple wrote her a little thank you note & enclosed a cash gift & we slipped it to her at the end of the visit. I wish we could have spent a whole afternoon with her, she was very sweet & the visit is a very treasured memory. If I haven't answered something, let me know. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
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Hi shmabbies

Thanks for your informative post. We will be doing the lunch with a Russian family on our Denrus tour and I have quoted your post on our Roll Calls so that all in our group can read it.

Thanks again!
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Hi Mercury, You're welcome, and I hope you have a great time. It really is a fascinating experience & we would do it again in a heartbeat. Again I'm really surprised no one else has posted on the subject because it was so thoroughly discussed in the past. I can't recall anyone saying anything negative about it, most of the "heat" was in regards to the "tip vs. gift vs. nothing" issue. You will love St. Petersburg and the lunch will just make it more special. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
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you are all correct. We did post last year on lunch with a Russian Family. Most people wanted the time to see more of the Hermitage, but I go to museums all over the world and wanted this new experience. There were six of us who visted our Russian family which consisted of a grandmother (much like my own) and her daughter who was a former ballerina. The teenage granddaughter was off at school. Our tour guide translated for us. I left a little gift for the granddaughter -- a small flashlight from the Sharper Image. The stairway was very dark even in the afternoon so I felt good about my little gift. The mother didn't want to take it, but I said it was for her daughter. I just received an email yesterday from friends who are on the Grand Princess. They loved St. Petersburg and were so glad I talked them into lunch with the Russian family.
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I love reading this because we have also elected to eat with a Russian family. That sounded like an experience I didn't want to miss. I notice in your post, Schmabbie, that several salads were served. Did you eat anything that was uncooked? I had read warnings about that and am just wondering. Someone in another post had mentioned requesting no uncooked food. I suppose the request was made to Red October. Any advice on that? I would never want to be rude in any way, but am concerned.

Bobby Sue

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Vatraveler - yes, we ate the salads (they were quite good too!). We've eaten all over the world & seriously, the only place we've ever gotten sick was at our local KFC! If it makes you nervous there were enough other options so you could skip the salads. Mind you, every family may have different meals, I don't think there is any standardization, though I imagine RO has some input into what is served & maybe even into its preparation, who knows. Anyway, we had no problems whatsoever. Have a great time!!
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Thanks, I may try it then. I hate to limit myself where food is concerned. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] We've also eaten in many countries with warnings and never had a problem. One of my favorite stories was when we were in China with a group and were eating at all-night diners, etc. There was another group staying at the same hotel as we were. They were aghast at that and said they would never dare. They went to TGIF in Beijing in order to avoid the dangers of Chinese restaurants (can you imagine?) and got sick as dogs. we were never sick at all.

Bobby Sue

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Eating in the ports and mingling with local people is important to me whenever we go somewhere. That's what it's all about. It's not possible to do a lot of it on a cruise, so this is one little opportunity that I feel is not to be missed.

Bobby Sue

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We cruised the Baltics last August on the Oosterdam and toured with RO in St. Petersburg. We really enjoyed our lunch with the Russian woman who was our hostess. As most have stated, it was the highlight of our trip. (I was not going to do this, as I am a very picky eater and I didn't want to offend anyone by not eating what they prepared, but as others have said, there was enough variety that this wasn't a problem.)

Our hostess lived in a typical Russian apartment building. We walked up 3 or 4 flights to get to her apartment. It was very small but clean and neat. She was a retired cashier for the large department store. Her daughter and grandson also lived with her, but were not at home when we were there. She did not speak any English, but our guide translated everything and we were able to converse easily. She was very interested in our jobs, and was pleased to tell us about what she use to do. We did not tip her, but left a small gift. (I work at NASA, so I brought her some pins and a few other things from our gift shop.) I also enclosed a Thank You note, not considering the fact that she couldn't read English. However, her grandson did, so he would be able to translate it for her.

The other couple that was with us (which we met on these boards) had our guide take a picture of the 4 of us with our hostess and they were going to send the picture in a frame to her.

I would really recommend doing this - it will be something that you will remember for a lifetime.

Mary Lou

***Waiting for 8/1/04 when we tour the Canadian Rockies and cruise Alaska on the Island Princess!***
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We (6 adults) just returned from Saint Petersburg touring with Red October (marvelous) and had lunch with the same family as shmabbies (see above) - The hostess, her son, his friend, and 15 year old nephew (a charmer) were dining as well. It was a great opportunity to meet and talk with a local family and I think they also enjoyed the conservation. I would recommend this experience, how often does one have an opportunity to meet and eat in Russia with a Russian family?
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Our group of 8 had lunch with a Russian family, our host was a physicist, her 88 yo mother who was a retired surgeon and her daughter and her husband and their 2 children all lived in this 4 room apartment that was 5 floors up in a very run down building. As we entered the apartment, the smells overtook us and a few of us wanted to turn around and go back to the van. The dining room table was set up in one of the rooms with a full size bed off to one side and a couch with a TV. Unlike some of the other posters on this site, we didn't get a variety of things to choose from. Our host served herring and a slice of boiled egg on a cracker as an appetizer, a cabbage/vegetable soup and a rice salad. The dessert was a rolled cake bought at a store. We as a group had decided before our trip to bring various gifts. Some of us brought things made or depicting our various states we were from. I made her 2 pins from safety pins and beads of the American flag and one of the Russian flag. Would we do it again? Probably not, it was an experience in itself, but we were a bit dissapointed overall.
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winbet, just wondering if you made Red October aware of your experience eating with a Russian family. It sounds like your experience was definitely not as positive as that of many other people. We are touring with Red October and plan on having lunch with a Russian family.
Bobbie
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