And Soon it Was the Morning of the Second Day of the Fourth Week.
As I drifted happily to sleep last night in a king-size bed with a large duvet and two fat pillows dreaming of golden palaces… Well actually I may have been dreaming of my own bed on 13th Street and thinking it wouldn’t be so bad getting up tomorrow morning for a dawn walk along my own river, then stopping on the way to work for a venti non-fat latte, wondering what excitement awaits among the day’s many turnings before leaving for the gym and abs class and then an evening writing with greater insight than I had before starting the journey. Perhaps. Or Not.
I wasn’t homesick really, but anticipating home happily at the same time.
This morning I feel ‘caught up.’ No photos that desperately need sharing. Clothes washed. Decision made not to go to the big folk-dancing extravaganza at one of the famous St. Petersburg venues. I’m saving my dance-self and budget for ballet in Moscow…Would rather see a Pussy Riot performance but the hotel doesn’t seem to be booking that at the moment.
Up next, the big adventures of the Trans-Siberian Express, Mongolian yurts and a stroll on the Great Wall. Yeah…but will they have lefse or potato pancakes in those new places? Then a last creepy ferry ride and it’s over…except for the paying part. I see a lot of instant grits in my future.
But first I have more gold and marble and borscht and vodka to get through. On with the day then.
And it was another perfect day in tourist land. I’ve so enjoyed Sergei and Alex. Sergei is a former teacher but, he says, as teacher pay went down and kids cared less, he left all that and for the last 14 years has been a travel guide. Vera in Belarus was also an ex-professor. They both talked freely about the good and bad of the old Soviet Union and on the good side was that teachers were actually decently paid. As we in the U.S. know, paying teachers well is not high on the priority list for capitalists of whatever stripe so, whether they’re called oligarchs or plutocrats, education is a devalued commodity. Alex is 25, out of army service, interested in computer science of course, but mostly just wants to figure out how to get into business and make money—a budding oligarch I suppose. What interesting guys to hang out with for a couple of days.
Today’s itinerary: Peter and Paul Fortress (where political prisoners were held), St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Church on Spilled Blood, Vodka Museum Restaurant (for lunch!) and the Marble Palace. Now my workday is over, except for figuring out which (photo) shots of gold and/or vodka to share.
So the first couple of days I arrived on the European continent the weather was perfect, chilly, gray, drizzly. Since then it’s been acceptable…mid 70s, that late summer soft sun that casts all things in the best light. Three sight-seeing days await me before the Big Train Ride so I guess I’m rather hoping this niceness holds.
Then it might be kind of great for the whole train trip to be in the rain…as long as I’m alone in the compartment and can just dream and write in a quiet fog of clickity clack and instant Nescafe…Tom, it is not that bad, honestly. Well, not honestly, but it is a colored beverage that doesn’t give me a headache.
I had originally intended to edit my posts in such a way that they could be considered professionally written short stories or tiny bits of journalism. Alas I do not have the energy to make that happen after exploring enough places to have something to write about. A conundrum. On the good side…have you ever seen this much damn gold in your life.
Hopefully I have photos in right order.
ST. PETER & PAUL CATHEDRAL
CHURCH ON SPILLED BLOOD
MY FAVORITE PEOPLE, FOOD AND MUSEUM OF THE DAY, THE VODKA MUSEUM.
ST. NICHOLAS CATHEDRAL (I AM PRETTY SURE).
One can safely assume that the Catholic Church had a great deal of money at the time. Can you imagine being a Russian peasant and going to Mass here? If this did not convince you that the Church was all powerful…,here and in heaven, nothing else would. Wow. Stunning…just stunning. Not to mention vodka and ice cream….if that had given vodka and ice cream to the rebelling masses the revolution would have been halted…
All that beautiful gold and rich carving and color takes my breath away. I can’t imagine what skill it took to create these masterpieces. Thanks for posting your very good photographs….and vodka is my new favorite to mix.