From Russia With Love

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Russia  ,
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

King Arthur: "Are all men from the future loud mouthed braggards?"
Bruce Cambell: "Just me baby, just me".

- The Army of Darkness, one of the finest films ever made.

I suppose I should start with the G8 Summit. The G8 Summit is an annual meeting of the eight 'richest' countries in the world; UK, USA, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia. They address international issues such as the environment, nuclear energy and responsibility, developing nations, disease, terrorism and world trade. It is seen by many as a complete waste of time, and is always the scene of mass demonstrations, also seen by many as a complete waste of time.

As previously mentioned, this year is was in St Petersberg, and we vowed to go along to bring you the first hand gritty reporting that you've come to expect from the intrepid travelling duo that is Mike and Vinny.

So here's why we never made it.

St Petersburg is a lovely place, and hardly at all what we expected. Canals meander lazily through the city (as canals should), cafe culture is a prevalent here as anywhere else in Europe, and drunken lunatics stumble screaming through the streets caked in their own dried blood.... but not very often.

There are a lot of drunks here. I mean a lot. So many in fact, that were it not for the indecipherable street names I might think I was still in England.

And on that note, another big thanks to Lonely Planet for putting roman characters on the street names on their maps. It really makes things easy to find when you're looking for Nebriski Street, and the sign on the actual street is in Cyrillic Script and says "squiggly line backwards k number three little picture of a bird drinking water from a stream".


But this really isn't explaining why we didn't go to the G8 Summit... So we were at the hostel, and heading out for drinks with the aforementioned randoms that inhabited it; Bert and Emma from Holland, Gemma from Ireland, Liz from New Zealand, Charis and Ona from Australia and Bruce Cambell from such films as the Evil Dead trilogy... He wasn't actually Bruce Cambell, he was an Australian called Corey but the likeness was quite remarkable. Unfortunately, nobody apart from me and Vinny knew what Bruce "The Chin" Cambell looks like, even when we pointed out his cameo roles in ever Sam Raimi project ever made...

We had some drinks. We went from a place I can now barely remember to an underground bar, where a Russian guy bought us a round of drinks on the proviso that we shut up. Feeling suitably welcome we left (but only after Vinny bought him a drink in return and he refused to drink it) and ended up in a nightclub. It was a great thing - a 'rock and roll' club that had a Swingers esque swing band playing live downstairs, and two rooms upstairs - a choice of horrible pop music or hardcore Russian techno (not technically music, more like an Industrial Revoloution happening in your head).

As we're so northerly here, it doesn't actually get dark. It kind of hints at it for a while, makes these subtle gestures around midnight like it's giving it some serious thought, then it's light again - although in the meantime we're treated to a few Auroras in the sky which are very pretty - not the big stuff, just the edge.

So, suffice to say, great fun as had by all, and we didn't get to bed until 6AM. The next day it was decided that the G8 Summit could wait until next year.

The last couple of days have been similar repeats of the first. Everybody tries to leave St Petersburg but something goes horribly wrong and it backfires, so the only thing left is to drink obscenely cheap Vodka and talk about what could have been. The group of backpackers at the hostel have been among the greatest teams we have encountered thus far, and if we were prone to wear hats, we would certainly remove them in their general direction.

In St Petersburg, nightclubs have lots of mirrors. It is completely normal for people to stand in a line, gyrating like they have an irate chipmunk stuck up their arse, checking themselves out in the mirror.... To Ice Ice Baby. We watched this for some time, completely baffled. They appeared to see something in the mirror that we certainly did not.

That'll be the Vodka.

As they are such stars, and not just because they'll be reading this entry, we want to thank Bert, Emma, Ona, Charis, Gemma, Liz and Bruce Cambell for being absolute legends and putting the "Comrade" into "Bend over, Comrade".... or something.

Six things I've learnt about Stalin and Bruce Cambell:

1. Stalin gave each city a quota of people to kill after his second wife killed herself. His quota for St Petersburg was 55,000.
2. Bruce Cambell lives in a converted Boeing 727, as he distrusts things made of wood.
3. Stalin once claimed that the displayed remains of Lenin in Red Square are fake. He said this so that his own remains would become more famous. They didn't.
4. Bruce Cambell's next project is a film called My Name Is Bruce, which he is directing as well as starring in... playing himself.
5. Stalin was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" in both 1939 and 1942.
6. Bruce Cambell has written a book called "Make Love The Bruce Cambell Way"

And, because I like being purposely vague and also because our new found friends will be reading, I'll leave with some "Quotes from St Petersburg".....

"Australians eat their young"
"If that woman gets up and dances on the table I'm going to be sick"
"Just me baby, just me"
"Can I come and live with you when I get to your country?"
"Hows about them Knicks?"
"Inside out handbags"
"That was the worst taste joke I've ever heard"
"Australians cook babies on barbecues"
"I can't believe there's more than one film where a tree rapes a woman"
"What are you doing?" ........ "I'm asleep".
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