Leaving Russia

Trip Start Jul 07, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Flag of Russia  , Sankt-Peterburg,
Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today was our second and final day in Russia. And the weather was even nicer today than yesterday! Lots of sun. We had an afternoon tour of the Hermitage Museum and as we were driving into town we saw the locals sunbathing everywhere. All over the boulevards, wherever there was a patch of green grass they were taking in the sun. Most in bathing suits, some topless.

I found out why the Russians are such crazy drivers. The only thing you need to do to get a driver's licence is fork over $300 (about 12,000 rubles), there is no test so lots of drivers don't know anything about the rules of the road. That could explain the condition of a lot of the cars, too. Luckily, when Peter the Great designed the city in 1703, he had the roads built very wide and perfectly straight.

The Hermitage Museum is housed in what was once the winter palace of the Russian monarchy. It is a gorgeous building, very opulent with marble staircases and incredible wood parquet floors, beautiful plaster moldings everywhere and everything covered in gold leaf. The museum has a collection of over 3 million items including paintings by all the masters, sculpture, porcelain, furniture pieces, and on and on. We were only able to see a few highlights and were just able to walk through all the buildings in the 2 hours of our tour. Some highlights for me were paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and impressionists Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne and Gaugin. A scholar said that if you were to stop and look at every item and read the description, it would take 11 years!

Right now we are on our way to Talinn, Estonia. Talinn is another mediieval city, built in the early 1400s so I'm looking forward to walking on cobblestone streets and getting another good dose of Baltic history.

It is another one of those early mornings for us - 7:15 a.m. start, but at least we get to put our clocks back on hour as we are heading west into another time zone. Avis and I finally got smart enough to order our breakfast delivered to our room in the morning so we can eat while we are getting ready. Looks like it is going to be another nice day - forecast is for 27 C

Deb, I'll pass your message along to Charles.

I leave you with a quote that our tour guide gave us - "You may leave Russia, but Russia will never leave you." I would have to agree.
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