Mind-blowing Blizzard of Culture

Trip Start Oct 13, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 2 in St. Petersburg and I was very excited because today was a big day! Finally I got to visit one of the largest and greatest museums in the world, The Hermitage. But last night I barely got any sleep because we stayed up late watching this outrageous Russian reality show where several couples are handcuffed together in the same house 24 hours a day and they were never released for bathroom visits or anything! They were fighting and some wanted to sleep with other couples. It was crazy!!!

And on top of that it was hot as hell in the room because the hotel apparently has an excellent centralized heating system and they shut off the AC systems because it is winter time. So, the only way to cool down the room is to open the window. The only problem with that is the mosquitos! Yes I said mosquitos! Even though there is no standing water anywhere around and it's in the upper 30's outside, there are mosquitos. And not just any mosquitos, but aggressive Russian mosquitos that kept buzzing around and biting us, so I just stayed under the covers and hoped for the best. LOL!

Before going to the museum I decided to stop by a nearby cafe for a nice breakfast. The place I stopped at I had seen before all over both Moscow and St. Petersburg and it appeared to be the "Denny's" of Russia so I assumed it would be decent. I ordered their weekday breakfast special which included eggs, toast, ham, and coffee. Seems pretty simple, right? Well apparently not for people in Europe. The breakfast I received was by far the worst breakfast I have ever eaten! A pathetic attempt at some kind of an omelet with cheese that was burnt on the bottom, accompanied by one slice of white bread toast barely toasted, two thin slices of rolled up ham, one small tomato, and green olives. Who the hell eats green olives with eggs! Thank God it was ONLY $9. Some of you might say not all places are like that, but I've been all over Europe now, and I would argue that the vast majority are. Oh sure for $30 you can go to a 5 star hotel or restaurant and probably (maybe) get a decent breakfast, but that's not what normal people in Europe eat. For the most part people in Europe do NOT know how to make a good breakfast, period.

Still hungry, I had to get over the museum ASAP! They don't open until 10:30 and close at 6:00 so that doesn't leave too much time to see stuff. So I get there and after waiting for about 30 minutes in the freezing cold I finally get in. AND WOW! The place is HUGE! I had no idea where to start, but I had two English tours of both the Gold and Diamond collections scheduled so I had to manage my time around them. That's not easy because you have to meet at certain places for the tours and depending on where you are it could take you 20 minutes just to walk to the meeting point. So I had to plan my route carefully. This place is nothing short of incredible. I mean really.

This place has everything from Masterpieces to Mummies but with only a few hours to go through it all I had to walk at a very brisk pace. I was walking past million dollar paintings and sculptures thinking to myself "oh that looks familiar. I've seen that one somewhere before". It was both breathtaking and insane at the same time. And both the Gold and Diamond rooms were simply stunning! But they wouldn't allow photos so I can show them to you.

The day seemed to fly by and before I knew it, it was almost closing time. And I was starving to Maria suggested we go to this really cool Russian restaurant nearby. It was reasonably priced and the food was excellent!

When we left the restaurant it was pouring rain and we had quite a long walk back to the hotel so we decided to stop in this cool bar along the way to get out of the rain. Next thing ya know I was hammered!
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