This was my opportunity to play tour-guide, translator and even tourist. It's the first time I've had people from the 'outside world' over to Russia and it forced me to sit back and think about what the city has to offer in terms of culture, history and landmarks (not to mention food, drink and evening entertainment!).
I think we struck the right balance. With only a couple of days available - thankfully gifted with great weather throughout - I offered them views of the centre, tastes of Russia and even an experience of my last few months at home in Primorskaya. To give me an outlet for exercise I've spent a fair few hours on the basketball court (trying to get to grips with necessary vocabulary). There is a universal language where sport is concerned however and the quality and enjoyment of play involved mostly spoke for itself.
Credit for the view above has to go to my buddy and his fortuitous employment of Google to find a suitable setting for our penultimate evening. A rooftop terrace view of St Isaac's Cathedral as the sun came down, good wine and good company to boot. Although this end to the trip has stretched my budget - and my last reserves of energy - I couldn't have asked for a better finish to the final stage of my research it represents.
My ultimate aim when I began this blog was to prepare myself for this, my doctoral thesis. I wanted to feel like I could operate in the archives and produce original and insightful research on a fascinating country. I also hoped to be able to communicate and express myself in a new and challenging language. Although there is still work to do where both these aims are concerned, my confidence continues to grow and my passion for history persists.