Trailing Dostoevsky in St. Petersburg!

Trip Start Oct 17, 2010
Trip End Oct 24, 2010

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trailing Dostoevsky in St. Petersburg

We have our breakfast where we chat a lot over a hot cup of Russian coffee which I begin to like…..! We make the plans of the day, and we decide to take it easy and not to rush today.

We are to visit the Church where the icon of the Virgin that was on board the plane is carried. At the Russian Museum we accidentally met the people that were accompanying the Icon of (Gorgoypikoou) and Alexei is driving us there today. I have to admit that Alexei is a very religious person.

We come to the church, and the icon is really huge and is placed in the centre for people to worship.  Katerina covers her head with a silk mantilla and she hands me a second one. She tells me that if I am to enter and worship the icons I have to have my head covered.  Of course we don't have this custom in Greece at first I thought I would not do it.

Seeing the priest however inside the church I decide to put the mantilla on and cover my head as well.  I approach him and ask permission to take a photo of the icon. 

The answer is " NO!" I am very disappointed and a bit angry and decide to take off the mantilla from my head. 

Katerina urges me to put it back on my head, but I am really disappointed. I never expected a negative answer from a priest! We don’t stay long in the church and leave.

We are in the centre of the city and we go inside a shoe shop as Alexei wants to buy a pair of leather shoes. I have a look on the price and find them expensive, but my attention is attracted to the two boys working in this shop.  Of course Alexei and Kateria are in another room – a second indoor room, and I am sitting somewhere near the entrance waiting for them to finish.

The first boy is wearing platform shoes which are SO thick and huge that I have never seen in my entire life.  His feet are tiny and he is so skinny, and seeing him wearing these shoes immediately I understood that something is not right here.  I want so much to take a photo of these peculiar pair of shoes but I see the look on his face and I am scared.  It is as if he is taking drugs.

He is moving here and there, sitting for some seconds, standing up again, passing behind a curtain at a back room, and appears again.  He is lost in his world….and I am scared to take my camera out.

Alexei is busy inside the other room paying for his new pair, and when I see Kate I tell her to have a look at the boy’s shoes. We both smile!  That moment another guy appears from behind a curtain, but this other guy seems much worse than the first one.  It is obvious that both of them are taking drugs.  They are staring for some seconds at each other, but stay silent, move behind the curtain one on the right and the other on the left, and again out in seconds.

I really want to leave.  I see Alexei paying and I am relieved, but I just wonder how the young lady who is working in this shop feels having to work with these two guys!!

We are outside in the street again, Alexei is already wearing his new pair  on, we breath the clean humid air….it is cold and I suggest that it is time for a coffee break.   I want to pay, but Alexei insists to stand treat.  He is happy for his shoes and so I let him.

We have already spotted a nice bakery-coffee shop and on our way there, Alexei finds a trash can where he leaves his old shoes in there.

We rest and warm ourselves in a nice bakery-coffee shop, but soon we are out again ….this time we walk towards Kuznechny Pereulok Street.  It is the neighborhood where Dostoevsky used to live.

He actually lived in three different residences on Kaznacheyskaya Ulitsa in the 1860s. No. 1, 7, and 9. The street was then called Malaya Meschanskaya, or Petit Bourgeois Street.

As we are walking towards Dostoevsky’s residence I bring pictures from his books and I remember when some years back I was reading “Crime and Punishment”. With my imagination I see myself walking in these same streets back in the times of Dostoevsky. For a moment I find myself dreaming….probably it is because I am moved so much. A dream coming true for me.  Kate insists that we get inside the gardens of one or two of these shabby buildings so as to get the whole picture and the atmosphere of those days. Deeply inside me I want to tell her that I can already feel the atmosphere of those days, and decide to follow.

Crime and Punishment is largely set in this neighborhood.  I am excited and I could never imagine that one day I would have the chance to come here.  But it is true….I am here with Kate who is such a good guide and a true friend. 

Though Dostoevsky did not spell out the full names of the streets, he described the streets and buildings very precisely.  It is almost certain that Raskolnikov’s garret apartment (more like a cupboard than a room) was the building at No. 5 or No. 9 Stolyarniy Pereulok.

On the way to the subway we passed through a very interesting a beautiful fruit market.

Another beautiful and interesting day for me here in St. Petersburg!
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venoth on

It is always good to follow the local customs and traditions. I have had to pay the price once for refusing to abide. :)

laorfamily on

Wow Popi, fantastic blog post - shoot me an email when you get a chance.

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