Through the Iron Curtain

Trip Start Aug 20, 2012
Trip End Jun 08, 2013

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Monday, September 10, 2012

Spent most of the day getting into Russia. The bus from Tallinn was great; with Wi-Fi and free coffee. The roads have improved markedly from the last long road journey in Slovakia.

The border crossing at Narva was interesting, very old school. Narva has been a border for a while. The Narva Castle faces the Russian Ivanogorod Fortress, but don't try taking picture unless you like the inside of police cells.

The Estonians took all the passports away to check before letting us leave. The Russians made everyone get off and carry all their stuff through a check point. Kristina was having kittens as Andy was traveling with a few passports; using his Australian one in Europe but his Hongkong one in Russia, to avoid the need for a visa. The Estonians wanted to know how he got into Europe when he showed the Hong Kong passport, to avoid getting a Russian visa. The Russians looked well confused and phoned their boss. Thankfully he got through, as they have a record of detaining people for a chat.

We reckon he's a spy.

Lots to see in St Petersburg, there are many old churches, stored from the Communist era and some rebuilt completely. They were in active use. I liked the story about 'The Church of the Spilled Blood'. It was used as a vegetable store by the communists, and referred to as 'The Church of the Spilled Potatoes'.

The Hermitage and massive picture collection were impressive. I really like all the furniture and just the immense grandeur of the buildings. There were a number of very large stone vases, showing off the mineral wealth of Russia.  

It was strange to think it was all collected by a single person. When she had the new Hermitage built to show the art, only a hand full of nobles were allowed in each day.

I went to see the cruiser Aurora in the river, this was where the signal for the storming of the Summer Palace was broadcast and symbolically the guns are still trained on the palace.

They call it the Venice of the north and there are lots of canals. It was very interesting to follow them as you can quickly see that St Petersburg has been neglected and many old buildings are all boarded up.

Drawing seems to very popular, lots of people sitting around with a pad and pencil.
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Al on

Pity to read it's run-down - certainly looks grand in your photos.

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