Friday, November 27, 2009

Russia - Day 6

Well, as it happens my new hotel has internet, so at least tonight I
can continue my narrative (tomorrow I am going to Novgorod all day, so
I will probably skip the internet).

I woke up late, packed in a hurry, and got down to breakfast just a
few minutes ahead of Chrissy and Gustav. Ten we sat in their room
chatting for the last time and planning our next trip (probably
Ethiopia next November). When the taxi arrived, around 11:15, they
drove me to the metro station, and then headed out to the airport in
fairly heavy traffic. I will miss my dear friends!

A short metro ride brought me to my new hotel, where I dropped off my
stuff, and then I took a walk to buy a ticket for the circus for
Sunday afternoon. The Circus at the Fontanka arm of the Neva River is
quite a tradition in St. Petersburg, where it has been in continuous
operation since the end of World War II.

From there I walked to Nievsky prospekt, to buy a ticket for a day
excursion to Novgorod tomorrow Saturday. 1000 rubles for the bus ride
seems tame compared to the rates charged by some of the taxis here in
St. Pete.

A short metro ride and a walk of a couple of blocks brought me to the
Arctic and Antarctic Museum, where I was planning to spend a good part
of the afternoon. Alas, it was closed! It is annoying enough that
museums around the world close on Mondays, but in Russia they have the
added injury of closing one random day in the last week of the month
for cleaning and maintenance (a "sanitary" day). Well today was it.

Not knowing what to do I went to visit Vasilisky Cathedral (very nice
example of onion towers and Russian Orthodox architecture), and "die
Kleine Markthalle" (my name for the market of fresh vegetables and
fruit, meat, fih, adn caviar). The sigt of caviar sharpened my
appetite so I stopped in a small restaurant for a very Russian meal of
borsch and blinies (crepes) with salmon caviar. Yum, yum.

To finish the afternoon I took yet another metro ride, and a long
walk, to visit the Museum of Political History, where an enormous
collection of artifacts documents the liberation of the peasants from
serfdom by Nicolas II, the revolution of 1917, the ascent of the
communist party to power, the Soviet era, up to Gorvatchov's famous
address to the Soviet citizens calling for the dissolution of the
Soviet Union 20 years ago. The museum spans two houses that were used
by the Bolcheviks as early headquarters, with its most famous room
being the one Lenin used as office and forum during the early months
of the revolution. An interesting history lesson.

And now I am back in my hotel, a little tired of all that walking. I
need to make sure I wake up early tomorrow, so I think I will turn
early tonight.


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