In our 2nd to last weekend in Petersburg, a big group of us headed four hours south to the ancient city of Pskov. Pskov’s pretty rad — the city just turned 1007 years old, it’s the place where Nicholas II abdicated, and it has plenty of ruins, monasteries, and picturesque churches to romp around in.
However, in spite of its rich history and culture, I think the brightest memory I have of Pskov was when we all decided to jump from a 10-ft high wall into a river. It was absurdly hot when we reached the city, and we were already grumpy after touring around in the Kremlin. We happened to come across a group of pleasantly tossed Russians jumping off a wall into the river. After enviously looking at them for a bit, our director handed his things to a student and ran over. And, after much deliberation, we all ended up following suit.
The walk up to the edge was this rickety metal plank, and I happened to make the mistake of looking down and realized that I was relatively high up. But the drunk Russians were goading me, and I wasn’t about to wuss out in front of a ton of Russian men, so I jumped. Looking back, it was probably not the best decision, since it was a dirty river and it was shallow (with sharp rocks at the bottom!) , but hell, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In a symbolic, mushy sort of way, jumping into that dirty brown river encapsulated my time in Russia — spontaneous, scary, probably bad for my health but ultimately, very rewarding.