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Published: September 27th 2009
As promised, this time we write a decent blog entry...
Saintpetersburg (SPB) was great, we spent there 3 days. Lucky us the youth hostel was in the centre, so all sights were in walking distance. SPB is the favourite city for many Russians as it's a buzzing place with lots of nice buildings and people are very friendly. The only negative they say about SPB is the weather, it can be very very cold and dark, a bit depressive sometimes. We were lucky though, the sun was shining, blue sky and not much wind. We visited the Hermitage, which is a museum much bigger than the Louvre in Paris. Amazing collection however we liked the building itself most. Full with ornaments, lots of gold on the ceilings and walls, all rooms reflect the richness Russia has/had. We strolled a lot at the banks of the Neva river and saw the Aurora war ship there too. The Russians sank the Aurora during WW2 in order to avoid the German bombs. On Wednesday we wanted to see more museums, but most of them were closed, except for the erotic museum, which is located at the clinic of a venerologist, who happily shares his collection with the public. His most proud piece is the private part of the famous Rasputyin floating in a conservation liquid... very big, hairy and grey... ouch...
Nightlife in SPB is great, we visited many pubs and bars, our favourite was a small alternative cafe with live russian DJ and they had a separate room filled with washing machines and dryers. Very practical, the machines do your laundry while you sip a beer or two. Russians use a lot of fruity syrups into their drinks, tried beer with banana syrup, not bad at all...
An other favourite was the MOD bar, a young local band was playing on the stage. In a separate room an old music machine played 80s music if you fed it with a one dollar note (provided by the bartender... who by the way was very friendly and in every 10 minutes joined her friends for a drink when the boss was not watching... I am curious how her liver can be if she does this in every shift...).
Wed night we took the train to Moskow... that was a real experience. We went for cheap ticket, but still got beds for ourselves. Being foreigners though somehow we were assigned to the worst beds russians say. Imagine a train car with cabin arrangements, however the cabins have no doors/wall, so the whole car looks like a big dorm room with beds on lower and higher level. And to add to the fun, there are beds also on the corridor at 2 levels. And we got the top beds on the corridor. So you can imagine Chris with his 2m height, how he fit into the bed with a size of 50cm x 160 cm... next morning he had to unfold his body... I was quite OK, but the stretching felt really good in the morning.
One thing I forgot to mention about SPB. At the hostel we met Sylvia, a Swiss girl who was cycling around in Europe, including Russian territory too. Brave girl, travelled a lot so far, her passport is full with stamps from the most special places. She has approx 5 stamps from different base stations on the Antartica (russian, ukrainian, chilean, etc). And she gave us a good hint how to approach Antartica... she sailed one month with a Dutch/Swiss family from Argentina to Antartica, which included 2 weeks stay on the South Poole itself... sounds great... And this story is an other example how fanatic these travellers are... the couple brought along their small children to the trip...
Thursday morning we arrived and had breakfast in the Alexander garden, just next to the Kremlin. We went to the Red Square, which was very empty as it was still very early... Later we headed to meet our friend, Olga. We dropped our bags in her office and went to Gorkij Park,which was basically deserted (afternoon on a working day,so in itself not that weird). But it was basically like an old-fashioned horror movie: an old themepark totally empty, but the flags still waving, the bars are open, but nobody inside and suddenly some old machine starts flashing making weirdo sounds as you got closer.... weird
At ~ 20h we met Olga again, and went to the flat where she lives together with her mother. Authentic Bors(red-beet soup), meat and lovely bulgarian wine. Had a perfect evening and slept like a baby 😊 The next day a relaxed morning with Olga (this time it's the mother as both are called Olga....), Kremlin and in the evening Olga's b-day party with homemade horseraddish vodka: interesting conversations about traveling, Russia, work and inflatable ladies. NICE!
On Saturday queing for Lenin. And I must admit the Rasputin's dick looks more authentic then 'Lenin'. Appartently he's bathed every once in a while in warm wax. This process has been going on for years,so try to imagine how he (or is 'it' more appropriate then 'he' by now ?!?) looks like after ~80 years... In the evening we found a bar with live music "B7",all in Russian, but the warm-up was very cool: for ~20 minutes these guys were playing behind the curtain. you could see them vaguely. Nice beers, nice food, slept good, also knowing the fact that the next night will be in the train to Irkutsk.
So today the plans are shopping (bread, water,vodka and bananas). Earplugs we've got. And trying to find a mixed banja. At 22h our train leaves, hopefully a final cup-a-tea with Olga fits in. But for now: Adios as I've going to look for my coffee which was promissed 30 minutes ago, but Agi still didn't show up with it....
PS: In case you're wondering: yes we have pictures, and yes we can add them on the blog, but now we can't: the computer doesn't pick up USB sticks / camera's.... so tough luck for you!
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