April 02, 2007

Borscht for dinner, blini for breakfast

How much more Russian than that can you get? Exactly. Not much.

The one thing conspicuously absent from the whole week? Vodka. Not one sip, although it wasn't missed much.

Besides lots of food, we saw a lot of palaces, churches, more churches, museums (well, only two actually), more palaces and so on and so forth. I never realized the city is so big. Five million people, apparently. So I guess it makes sense. The inner city (within the Fontanka river) is apparently UNESCO World Heritage. So yes, it's beautiful. According to my friend the buildings have been renovated a lot over the last few years and it shows. I was there when the ice was just melting away from the canals. It must be stunning in winter, covered with snow!

The rest of the city though, is just big, ugly, dirty and dusty.

The rearwindow of the car above is not an exception, at all. As a matter of fact, most cars couldn't even let you see through their windows... Supposedly it's all part of the season, and there will be a big street-cleaning-exercise in April to get rid of all the dirt. I'm not convinced. I saw plenty of cars exactly like this in Moscow in June last year...

What else. Ah, bureaucracy. In the end it turned out okay (well, I'm back at least). As my friend described it:
exactly because regulations change so often and no one knows what is going on it is possible to survive in Russia as you can always find a way to make it work.

That pretty much summed up my experience as well. No one wanted to take the risk of registering me as they used to before Jan 1 so I ended up paying for a few nights' accomodation in a hotel, where I never stayed. *sigh* Then they told me I should come back to the hotel to pick up a voucher for customs. When we got there the voucher wasn't ready yet. When we got there for the second time the voucher was nowhere to be found as apparently it was sent back to the authorities already. But, I also didn't need it at customs anyway. So why did I have to come back to the hotel again?

Ah well, it's all part of the fun I guess ;-)

Finally, one of the best things was finally seeing a ballet performance in Russia. I saw La Bayadere at the Mariinsky Theatre. Excellent night! The theatre itself is gorgeous and I had a 2nd row seat. Very cool.
Hmm, these probably are the highlights. Enjoy the pictures!

And I think I finally figured out how to put a few seconds of the ballet (well, the applause) here. Not much, but fun to play around with YouTube ;-)

1 comment:

Brian said...

You probably won't visit Saint Petersburg twice, as to verify your experiences on bureaucracy and non-vodka :)