Two Days in Russia

Trip Start Jan 11, 2007
Trip End Jan 15, 2010

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Flag of Russia  ,
Monday, June 25, 2007

Entry into Russia is strictly controlled and you must be part of an escorted tour or else submit a detailed tourist visa application that inquires about your profession, special skills, and employment history. We chose to tour St. Petersburg as part of a two-day cruise ship tour. It was a rushed itinerary but gave us a good overview of the city and the incredibly beautiful palaces and art treasures of the Czars.

It is difficult to encapsulate this trip into just a few sentences. The city seemed so complex. Modern and 21st century, yet evidence of the Communist era and even the 18th century was everywhere. There were luxurious palaces of the Russian Czars and crumbling buildings that were once beautiful palaces along the Neva river, but now stood empty and awaited restoration. As we drove through neighborhoods near the port, some poor and middle class neighborhoods looked similar to other neighborhoods you find in America cities. Our visit was too brief, but The Hermitage contained an amazing number of incredible artwork by the world's greatest artists.

I saw billboards with American, Chinese, and European advertisements and movie posters, along with shiny new manufacturing facilities. There were old subway cars and trams moving through the "sleeping areas" as our tour guide Alexandra called them. We could see row after row of what looked like grey or beige Communist-era apartment buildings: no embellishment, no architectural mouldings or any detail to make them visually appealing. They were functional spaces meant for sleeping.

St. Petersberg was a fascinating place to visit and I would love to see Russia again...
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