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Trotsky Wuz Here

Visiting St. Petersburg

semi-overcast 15 °C

While the wide streets of St. Petersburg are chock-a-block with workaday Fords, Toyotas and VWs, there are plenty of BMWs, Audis and Mercs. However, most surprisingly, are the large numbers of Range Rovers, Cadillacs and stretch limos. Stretch white Hummers are commonplace, but this rosy monster really stood out….
Globalization has brought the world here. Burger King, MacDo and Subways are everywhere, and the confectionery stand in our nearest 7/11 is loaded with a familiar assortment of KitKats, Bountys, and dozens of other bourgoise candies. But we didn’t come here to feel at home. We came to experience Russia. Not for us the burgers and fries, or the pricey Stroganof de Boef in the fancy French Bistro, we wanted local food at local prices. So we took to the backstreets where the menus and waitresses are mono-lingual and we successfully ordered chicken dinners from Vladina....
Our Russian is coming along – we now have two words between us.
Three days barely let us skim St. Petersburg's historic hits and we reluctantly skipped the Peterhof Palace and the breathtaking 'Amber Chamber' in Tsarskoye. We are incorrigible earlybirds and can easily knock off a couple of Egyptian temples or a maharajah's palace before lunch, but not here. Despite the short days the locals are late risers. Nothing gets going much before eleven and one morning when our breakfast hadn't arrived by 8.30 we found the maid asleep at the toaster - we bet she doesn't hanker for the old days when she might have been given a one-way ticket to Siberia.
Two museums a day can cause memory overload leading to permanent brain damage, but we did our best.
For instance: this is the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood where someone famous was assassinated a long time ago....
The Bolsheviks may have turned the place into a public urinal, but now it's being restored and is classed as a museum. Like many of the cathedrals and palatial piles of St. Petersburg the 'Spilled Blood' has more bling than Paris Hilton's handbag...
However, just like Ms. Hilton, the glitz is barely skin deep, and most of St. Petersburg's iconic edifices are red-brick blockhouses tarted up with a stucco stone facade. The 120 massive pillars of St.Isaacs Cathedral are, in contrast, each milled from a single chunk of rhodenite...
The interior of St. Isaac's - another museum resurrected from decades of Soviet neglect - might actually be too over-the-top even for Paris...
And the cathedral museum in the fortress of St. Peter and Paul is an opulent mausoleum dedicated to dozens of Russian royals. Much of the palace is covered in scaffolding, but the refurbished spire is inspiring...
The next stop on our lightning tour took us inside the feared Trubetskoy prison which was used to house dissidents and Bolsheviks before the 1917 revolution. Trotsky and Gorky were both held in this cell...
With a couple of hours to spare, and purely for your entertainment dear reader, we decided to squeeze in a quick peek at Rasputin's private parts. Sorry to disappoint you, but the museum housing his allegedly enormous thingamajig was closed permanently a couple of months ago.
That's all for Saint Pete - the fast train to Moscow awaits. So much to see and so little time.

Posted by Hawkson 08:14 Archived in Russia

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Looks like they are high into consumerism and getting to the top...I wonder how the ordinary people are doing? Guess I am a bit biased after reading Chris Hedges books

by Jean

Consumerism - the opiate of the masses Jean?
Jim and Sheila - I hope you had perogies with sour cream.

by Janet

Your travel blog is just fantastic .

by Christine Lloyd

Wonderful pictures and interesting reading seems as though we are on holiday with you both I hope the weather is being kind. Sheila I notice the date tomorrow and would wish you a lovely day with Jim on that eventful occassion. Keep well love David and Jean xxx

by David Henderson

Sheila, have a wonderful birthday....enjoy the Bolshoi! Wish I could be there to raise a glass of vodka with you! love to you both...

by Sharron

We are enjoying reading about your adventures.Very facinating and look forward to more. Safe travels!

by Kathy & Terry

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