The Hermatage and more

Trip Start Sep 08, 2007
Trip End Oct 12, 2007

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Flag of Russia  ,
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The second day in St. Petersburg was a full day, with a hike around the city after a quick visit to the Hermatage, a state museum located in the old winter palace, home of the tsars. Our guide was a little man, who met us at our flat. Alex was a doctor and like our guide from the day before, Alexander(another doctor) took time out of his day to take us on an excursion. Alex, hadn't spoken english for nearly 8 years when he was studying medicine in New York City. During our conversation, i found out that he had visited Niagara Falls at the same time i lived there. He came back to Russia working for the medical military and looking after his ailing parents. He explained that he was an internalist working in the archives of the Russian Medical museum and helps publish their journal.

Alex took us through The Hermatage a spralling palace that would take 8 days to see everything in it, if you spent a minute on each item. Equally impressive is the acutal building which was the winter home of the tsars.

After 3 hours or so of wandering the many rooms at the Hermatage Alex bid us goodbye and off we went in search of some food. We ended up at a chain that serves KFC. Yum.

Sometime after KFC, we went on a 1 hour boat tour. We got one a river boat that took us up and down various canals and rivers. Points of interest was pointed out over the speaker system in Russian. You had to watch your head or you could hit one of the many bridges we went under (they have over 200 in St.Petes).

One of the things i noted since i started my trip was most of the population was slim. However McDonalds was on every corner. In Kiev, the weather was warmer so the clothes were more revealing. Unfortuneatley, St. Pete's is as far north as Alaska, so everybody wore coats.

Later that night we met Alexander (the first guide) who had gotten tickets to the best ballet in Russia, Swan Lake. So it was off to the theatre with an hour to cross town, but we barely made it in time because of traffic problems which always seems to be a problem. Either the cars were going way too fast or not at all. We ran into the theatre with 5 minutes to spare. As many with many of our trips, i had to pretend i was Russian in order to get the preferred price. Swan Lake costs tourists $1000 each to see. I got in for $100. Pretending to be Russian is easy, just follow the real Russians, say nothing and frown.

Swan Lake is broken up into 3 acts, with the first and third pretty interesting (read hundreds of ballerinas in tutus). The second act was not as interesting. (too many guys onstage). After we left the theatre, we went to a fancy restuaraunt and every bottle of wine we ordered they didn't have until we got into something pricey. I don't even like wine. That concludes another 16hour day.

Please note that some of these pictures are from a new friend i met who is in the Russian army and its 3am our time and we're stuck in the airport waiting for the plane to Siberia as I write this. With neither of us speaking much of the others language, we had a great time showing each other photos of the same places we had been to. Nicolai works on a secret naval base near Japan. He especially liked the torture museum in the Peter and Paul fortress. This is my first real vodka binge. Cheers!

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