St. Petersburg Day Two

March 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm (Uncategorized)

Since St. Petersburg is very far away from Vladimir, we knew that we probably wouldn’t come back a second time.  That meant that in order to see everything we each wanted to, we had to split up.  On Saturday I decided to go by myself so that I could see everything I wanted to get done that day.  I was the first one to leave the hostel at ten am.  I wanted to go to the Peter and Paul Fortress first, so I figured out my route on the metro ahead of time.  However, when I put my metro token in the slot, it didn’t through correctly.  The metro lady started saying something to me through a microphone in her little booth.  It’s hard to understand Russian normally, let alone through a resounding microphone, so I started walking towards her.  She stepped out of the booth, and I have never had a stranger scream at me like that before.  She was screaming something in Russian, and the only thing I understood was “Maybe if you took your headphones out you would hear me!”  So I replied, “No that’s not the problem, I just don’t understand you.”  She was not pleased.  After this point, of course, I understood everything she said, and it was not very pleasant.  She said (verbatim), “You can’t understand me?  Of course you can’t understand me you STUPID FOREIGNER!”  It was all I could do to keep from laughing in her face.  She led me over to the machine that I had tried to use.  As it turns out, my token had just not gone through correctly, and came back out, like a vending machine.  So she put it through a different machine for me, all while making it very clear what a nuisance I was.  When I finally was on the escalator going down into the metro, I started laughing to myself because I couldn’t hold it in anymore.  All the other people on the escalator thought I was a huge freak for showing so much emotion in public.

I had no problem finding the fortress after coming out of the metro because it was so huge.  I had to cross a bridge to get into the fortress because it is on an island in the middle of the river Neva.  I’m sure this was great protection during the summer, but during the winter you can just walk across the frozen water to get to the fortress.  I’ve seen people do it.  It is free to walk around the fortress grounds, but if you want to go inside the cathedral or the museums, you have to pay.  Since foreigners have to pay an extremely higher price than Russians do, it became kind of a game with us “how many people can we fool?”  We all got Russian student cards for the school, so the trick was to hand the ticket ladies the student card, and not say anything.  When we speak Russian, they can immediately hear our accents and tell we’re not Russian.  The lady in the ticket office at the Peter and Paul Cathedral, however, took one look at me, and said, “You’re not Russian,” and charged me the full price for foreigners.

I went into the Cathedral first, and it was incredible.  If I thought the Hermitage had a lot of gold, it was nothing compared to this cathedral.  It was covered in gold, and beautiful paintings.  I should have expected it though because this was the cathedral where not only the last Romanovs were buried, but also Peter the Great.  Anyway, I knew that the remains of Nicholas the Second and his family were buried in the cathedral, and I was worried that I would miss their graves.  The names were written in very flowery old Russian script that was hard to read, so I started taking pictures of every grave so that I wouldn’t miss theirs.  That was until I saw the large crowd huddled around a separate room that said, “Tomb of Nicholas II and his family.”  Turns out I had taken pictures of a bunch of regular Joes.  Peter the Great was buried behind the altar, and it was very hard to see him, so I was trying really hard to get a good picture without breaking anything.  I didn’t break anything, but I didn’t get a good picture either.

After the cathedral I went into the fortress prison.  Apparently lots of people were held in this prison during the revolution, including Lenin’s brother.  The first prisoner the prison ever had, however, when it was first built, was Peter the Great’s son.  Peter the Great even supervised his son’s torture.

I went into some other museums, but they weren’t as exciting as the other two.  One lady in the Fortress museum (which just had a bunch of pictures of what the fortress looked like, as though I couldn’t possibly have seen it properly from BEING there) yelled at me for not being in one room long enough.

After I left the Peter and Paul Fortress I went to the Artillery Museum.  St. Petersburg has the largest artillery museum in the world, and I thought it was really interesting.  I got in for really cheap because I successfully duped the ticket lady into thinking I was Russian.  I was one of very few women in the museum, and most of the people in there were fathers with their sons.  I thought it was really cute until I saw a bunch of father/son mullet combos.  That was not cute at all.  Families should not have mullets in general, let alone matching ones.  The highlight of my day was seeing a whole family with matching mullets.  No joke, the mother, father, and son all had the same mullet.

The museum had the tank that Lenin rode in during the Revolution.  That was pretty cool.  There was also a small section about Americans in World War II, but that was the only other country represented in the museum.  This is because the Russians believe that America and Russia were the only two countries that mattered in the war.  Which is actually kind of true.

After I finished with the museum, I decided to head back to the Dostoevsky museum.  I successfully pulled off being Russian again, and got in for FREE.  It was an interesting house museum, but it wasn’t the best one I’ve seen.  One of the ladies in the museum, whose job it was to make sure people didn’t put one toe over the lines, wouldn’t let me go around the museum as I pleased.  I went into the living room, and she let me stay there for about thirty seconds before she took my hand and dragged me over to the nursery saying, “You have to see this now.”  She did that in every room.

I headed back to the hostel after I was finished with the Dostoevsky museum.  After dinner we all went out since it was Sarah’s birthday.  Jeff’s friends from St. Petersburg told us about a German pub they like to go to all the time, so we went there.  It was very small, but the people who worked there didn’t mind trying to seat all 12 of us.  The bartender was very nice, and kept asking Erin to marry him.  She was very flattered until she realized that he asked several women that night to marry him.  He didn’t mind that she was mad at him.  When she ordered a beer for Joely, the bartender took a mug off the shelf in the shape of a voluptuous naked woman, and gave it to her saying, “It’s like you!”  It was a fun night, even if it was super crowded.

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