Russia

Saint Petersburg: Nevsky Prospekt

Russian Federation

September 8, 2011

Thursday

Dear Family and Friends,

The sun made a brief appearance this afternoon.  Mostly though, the sky is gray and the drizzle incessant.  The air is humid and chilly.

Nonetheless, I make my patented strolls around this surprising city, up and down Nevsky Prospekt, a busy eight lane boulevard lined with smart shops, bistros and restaurants and pastel stone buildings.  It really is lovely here.   

Saint Petersburg: The Hermitage

Saint Petersburg

Russia

Saturday

September 9, 2011

At the Hermitage Museum I was approached by a charming woman who offered to be my personal guide.  Since she quoted an exorbitant fee, I simply explained, “I just follow my nose.”  

I noticed that everyone raced through the entrance lobby and headed for the magnificent grand stairway leading up to the main galleries.  What a shame.  They rushed through the arcade filled with enormous Greek sculptures.  And in one corner, in a very unpretentious location, I found a huge urn with bas relief sculptures depicting a “party” and the inevitable outcome of too much of a good thing.

Saint Petersburg: Petrodvorets

Saint Petersburg

Russia

September 9, 2011

Dear Friends,

Irina, my Russian friend in Miami, recommended I visit Petrodvorets outside Saint Petersburg.   So I rode the Metro (subway) for twenty minutes and then hopped a mini-van for a thirty minute ride west of the city.

Peter the Great (1682 – 1725) built a home here on the shores of the Gulf of Finland to oversee the construction of his naval base.  Eventually the area was developed with gracious white palaces, sculpted gardens, a series of dancing fountains and energetic cascades.

Saint Petersburg: Pushkin Palace - Smolny Cathedral

Saint Petersburg

Russia

September 11, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

I met Rainer at the B & B in Saint Petersburg.  Rainer works for an insurance company in Germany and is here on a four day holiday.  In his early forties, he is single and adventurous.   He has traveled the world from Bonn to Bangkok to Burkina Faso.

We decided on two trips together – one out of town and one local.

Novgorod: The Kremlin, the Churches, the Cafe

Novgorod

Russia

September 13, 2011

What a surprise!  Flapjacks!  Yes, Flapjacks! 

The word “Flapjacks” printed, oh so neatly, on one of those little white cards on the breakfast buffet table.  I haven’t seen or heard the word “flapjacks” in many, many years.   Have you?

 The traditional buffet breakfast at the Hotel Volkhov:  cereals, omelet, rice, macaroni and vegetables, fish stew, boiled eggs, tempting cakes, fresh fruit, tea (black and green), brewed coffee and flapjacks, or pancakes. 

Moscow: Galina, Oleg, Dasha, Nadia, Natasha, Natalia

Moscow

Russian Federation

September 16, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Eight years ago, on a bus ride from the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin to Bangkok, I met Galina and her teenage daughter Christina.  Galina spoke no English, but Christina spoke a little.   I learned they lived in Moscow and were headed for the Russian embassy in Bangkok.  Galina’s husband was an officer in the Russian Navy.

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