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Published: September 29th 2014
Russia - a place of glittering Palaces nationalised to Museums
Don and Lesley (with her journal) amidst the fountains at Peterhof Palace
Our flight home from St Petersburg was scheduled after midnight Monday
, in fact at 01:15 am Tuesday
. The bus took those of us leaving Russia today (ie those not staying the extra two days) directly from dinner to the airport.
We got to the airport with loads of time to spare, before El Al checkin was open although they were finally setting up. That was a good job too because their security was extra secure since our bags had been on the bus with the driver all day. Eventually we got through and Don and I made our way to the lounge where Michael was working hard (not to be confused with hardly working). At last our flight was called and we were off. After a very non-eventful flight and even some sleep, we landed at Ben Gurion at 5 am
. We collected our bags, said our last goodbyes and found a taxi and went home.
And what about our thoughts on Russia, well :
- there are the very high kerbs, you need to have very long legs to climb up and down the kerbs when crossing the roads; and
- the steps; every palace had hundreds of steps.
Russia - a place of History and Rememberance
Lost Faces in the Jewish Museum look all too familiar
It was a good job everyone was in perfect health and able bodied;
- the amazing palaces turned into museums. Considering the number of palaces for royals and wealthy landowners, Russia now has a tremendous number of museums and other public buildings. And whilst we felt some of the 'if you've seen one shrine you've seen them all' feeling we had in China, it was possible to appreciate each palace for its unique contribution to the tour;
- the opulence of the "haves". We didn't see what the "have nots" had but reading authors like Tolstoy one gets a good idea that the serfs depended very much on the mercy of their masters which was, of course, one of the causes of the October Revolution in 1917;
- the politics; well either they love Mr Putin or they hate him. There seems to be some desire for a capitalistic Soviet Union. They like the freedoms that the capitalistic society promises, ie no food queues but they don't like the corruption that capitalism brings with it. On the other hand when the communist society was in place, then too there were the "haves" and the "have nots" but
Russia - a place of Monuments and Spires
The Trekkers encounter Red Square on Moscow City Day at the start of our tour
maybe it was not quite so obvious as they dismantled the grandeur that prevailed under tsarist Russia;
- antisemitism; we didn't notice it. The men mostly wore their kippot all of the time and at no time did we feel threatened. The only instance that Don and I felt a sense of ummm maybe we shouldn't have said we are from Israel was in the book shop. We lent a phone charger to a German exchange student and he seemed a bit cool towards us after we mentioned Israel. Of course he didn't say or do anything blatantly negative, so we might have over-imagined his reaction.
Don and I (Lesley) would like to say a heartfelt thankyou to:
Steve and Ellie for asking us;
The Trekkers for welcoming us;
Michael for leading us and for our early morning Mishnah from Pirkeh Avot and for his wealth of information on Russian Jewish history;
Svetlana, Victoria and Natasha for wonderful tours in Moscow and St Petersburg;
And Penina for the ear-worm as the Trekkers song is going round and round in my head.
NOTE: we suggest
current followers reread our previous days in this trip because we updated blog details and photos as we discovered more highlights to add. Likewise if anyone uploads a personally recorded VIDEO from any day onto YouTube please give us the reference code and we can link it into our blog with your permission.
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