The fountain system behind Peter's Palace
From Russia With Love - St.
from a small room
have arrived in Russia. What a way to
start a trip.
think the culture shock actually began in the airport in Amsterdam where
we changed planes to fly
Russia. Everyone around us
was Russian, all you
hear was Russian. The KLM service was decidedly less accommodating on
this leg than our trans-atlantic portion. And we were not the only ones
pilfering the warm, soft, navy-blue plaid wool blankets that are
perfect-o travel size.
we taxied into the gate, the site that greeted me told me that indeed, I
was in a foreign country. There was a young women standing outside, near
the gate, dressed in head to toe military fatigues, very stylish army
green cap over a head of bleach blonde hair, cherry red lips and spike
heels. She didn't need the gun to scare me.
arrived in Russia and spent the next two
customs. It was relatively
Russia welcomes its visitors with special odors that seep from the
bathrooms. Resisting the hoardes of tourist taxis, we took the local way
in from the airport, that is two buses followed by metro, which is
incredible. First off, it
is so deep. To get down to
the subway, you ride the steepest, longest escalator, careful not to
lean forward so as to not pitch over the pedestrian in front of you and
by the time you
have descended to the
seventh layer of hell, you are rewarded by chandeliers and
beautifully ornate Soviet realist
art. Workers of
the world unite!
And talk about
efficiency, there is a clock at the end
of the station that
counts down three minutes to the
We found out that during the communist
era, the trains
actually ran every twenty seconds!
Hear that all el riders
in Chicago, go and complain to Mayor Daly or join the Communist Party.
visited some of the more beautiful metro stations
the Swan Lake ballet
and I loved it but, Doug,well, he was so very tired and his eyes kept
Unfortunately it was
not the famous Kirov ballet.
In fact we discovered
it was the State Academy which
trains dancers for the
Kirov. So while I was happy to see up and coming stars, Doug was dragged
to a glorified school production.
here has been extremely cheap (except the
sponsored discrimination as in the foriegn
supplement charge. They
charge russians about
interesting thing that we have seen is the
babushka, the elderly
russian women. It is a stereotype that
is alive and well. It seems that
they are everywhere and
their main state-sponsored occupation seems to be sitting in
musuems. Snoozing on a chair in
the corner, they will
perk up instantly at
the sight of a tourist trying to
snap a quick picture of
some artwork without having
paid the requisite
photo fee. They rush over,
swatting and barking at
we visited Peter's Palace west of the city in
the countryside, and
had a most interesting train
ride. The countryside
we flew through gave us our
first taste of rural Russia,
truly a third world country.
We saw plots of land,
that were roughly staked off
with broken tree
branches, and enclosed a small tin
shack and a little
garden. These were often
to very stagnant pools
of brackish water, in utter
contrast to the very cosmopolitan
Russian women are fashionable in their own right, while the men seem
Honestly, I have not seen shorter skirts
and higher heels
anywhere else in the western world.
Is there a competition?
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