St. Petersburg, the Hermitage and Odd Breakfasts
Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
279Trip End Ongoing
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Ellen had been hounding me to death when we arrived St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) about concealing the fact that we are tourists.
"They'll take advantage of us. Even the police are known to rip off tourists in Russia," she said.
Unfortunately, looking like a local takes more than hiding your foreign clothes. Ellen gets by just fine with her Slavic features. When encounters occur, the Russkies start conversing with her in Russian
We are staying at an apartment in downtown St. Petersburg. Overlooking the canal, our oversized bedroom has a fireplace and personal stereo system. The soft sounds of American jazz played over www.radiohermitage.ru and the reflection of the canal shining in through our bedroom windows and bouncing off the ceiling combine in lulling us to sleep at night. Yesterday, our hosts Andrey and Sasha prepared us a breakfast of crepes with caviar, vodka and lattes before pointing us off on a walking tour that led us to the Hermitage museum.
Playing war, Robin Hood, and the Knights of the Round Table are the things I did as a child. Learning how to dress myself and my horse in full armour before going to battle was important to me when I was ten. Since then museums have lost their appeal. But the Hermitage is different. There are three floors in this Tsars' former Winter Palace. The length of the Hermitage must run close to a kilometre
"Have you had enough? We've been here almost five hours,"Ellen asked as a beautiful cool breeze blew through one of the many open windows of the third floor.
I didn't care much for the beloved armour and bludgeoning weapons of my childhood; or for the paintings, pottery, old spoons or forks that are housed in this remarkable museum. But I have to admit that I was impressed by the ancient sculptures and often simply by the light that shines upon them through the Hermitage's windows. Actually, just walking about in the Hermitage, looking at the ceiling frescoes, staircases and occasionally out the windows at the Neva River was plenty enough for me.
"No, let's stay a while longer," I said.