Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overseas Adventure (Part 3)

Overnight Train from Moscow to St. Petersburg
* My berth-mate was Maxim. A St. Petersburg citizen who owned his own Telecom business.
- Wondered who I voted for.
- Wondered how long the shitty economy would last.
- Knew little about hybrids and alternative energy.
- Looked a little nervous, but was interested in meeting an American out of coincidence.
- Wondered why Jon was so interested in Russian history that he studied it in college.
- It was extremely interesting because we both knew we would never see each other again, and therefore willing to talk about U.S. and Russian leaders.
~ I think he was hesitant to give his honest opinion about Putin & Medvedev until I started ragging on the Bush administration.
~ It sounded as if he wishes some of the country's communist economic elements were still in place.
- I was uncomfortable sleeping in the berth with a stranger, and thus only got about an hour or two of slumber.
* Upon arrival, we walked by cabbie after cabbie until we stopped to talk to a man named Sergey, who loved his Mercedes. So much so, that I heard "Mercedes" about 6 times from the time he picked us up until dropoff at the hotel.
* It was cool though, because he proceeded to point out landmarks throughout the city along the drive, while telling us of his experience singing in a choir at Carnegie Hall.

St. Petersburg, Russia
* Day one in St. Petersburg was very similar to day one in Moscow. We got in town and went sight-seeing right-off-the-bat.
- Walked down Nevsky Prospect (the main thoroughfare, offering wonderful architecture and shopping.)
- Church of the Spilled Blood
~ mosaics all over the interior, which had to have taken many years to finish.
~ the difference between St. Basil's (Moscow) and the Church of the Spilled Blood was the age (St. Basil's - 1561, Spilled Blood - 1907) and the Western influence was evident.

* All of St. Petersburg had a greater Western European influence from Peter's time spent in Italy before his return to rule, and establish St. Petersburg as the capital of Russia to take advantage of its access to the Gulf of Finland.
*The Hermitage (formerly the Winter Palace for emperors and empresses in St. Petersburg)
- It's F-ing Huge
- The architecture was the most interesting aspect.
~ The Garden Room - has fountains along all four sides, with four more fountains all similar to each other throughout. Pillars supporting its large area, the entire room was once filled with fresh plants, having woven walls of marble to support ivy-like greenery. It was really spectacular.
- The Thrown Room - The largest and most extravagant room I've ever been in. When I walked in, I immediately thought of The Sound of Music. It felt like I was at an extravagant ball in the 18th century.

Pushkin, Russia (suburb of St. Petersburg, named for the poet - Alexander Pushkin)

* Remember Sergey? During our ride to the hotel from the train station, he had me flip through a three-ring binder of tours he offered while simultaneously giving a taste of his Tour Guide capabilities. Well, one of the tours was of Pushkin and the Summer Palace, which we decided to do in the a.m. before our departing flight. Finally learning that navigating Russia was about haggling, we were able to hire his services (including dropoff at the airport) for about 1/3 of the listed price in the binder.
* Amber Room
- Welp Thrown Room (from above), I take it back. The Amber Room was and likely will be the coolest, most intricately assembled room I will ever see in my entire life. The entire room was constructed using amber (dried sap, used to store mosquitoes for dinosaur recreation.) The walls, ceiling, molding, and even the intricately molded frames surrounding mirrors and windows in the room. ++ In fact, if you would like to learn more about the Amber Room, a podcast that I listen to did an episode on it (upon my recommendation, I might add.) Stuff You Missed In History
- Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed in the room. Wah-wah.

Misc. Notes
* KU beat Missouri - Suck it, Slavers.
* Renaissance Marriott - St. Petersburg is the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in.
* I didn't eat 3 meals in a day the entire trip, and actually ate 1 meal multiple times.
* I smoked 1 shitty, dried-up Cuban cigar… and 2 Awesome Ones, giving me a good buzz.
* Interesting Quotes:
- Life has started.
- Pay attention in each moment. You will never get that moment back.
- Do unto others… You can't retract your actions.


No comments: