Running hot and cold (and hot again) travel blog

Very fast train

Reception room at the hermitage

One of the ceilings


I'm crazy about the ceilings

David's head interfering in my photo of the most amazing columns in...

How beautiful is this..

Spilled blood

We all met at 5.20 as directed, checked out and got our brekky box. The brekky box was enormous and could have fed a small third world country. ham and cheese roll, a separate bread roll with three lumps of cheese, an apple, a banana, and a bottle of water.

most of the group started fanging on the food straight away, as if they'd never seen food before. i couldnt face food at that time of the morning. neurotic lynne started bossing everyone around. hand all of your boxes over and i'll stack them up... seriously...over involvement and over reaction. she wasnt happy until everyone had done it... except me.. i hadnt eaten.. funnily enough the pressure to conform was enormous. i know she wasnt happy that i hadn't handed mine over.

the two lynnes are starting to piss me off. i just want to have fun, not put up with other peoples neuroses and bad humor.

They are talking so loud that everyone on the train has no choice but to hear everything they say.

Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be Australian. They were making fun of the language, the writing, all kinds of things in the next seats to a train full of Russian people. Maybe I'm just crabby.

The new local guide Tatiana is an older woman and very very good. We did a city tour on the bus picking out the main landmarks and then onto the hermitage museum. She was so knowledgable about art. It seemed as though she really knew what she was talking about.

I can't believe today I have seen works by da Vinci, El greco, Degas, Reubens, Rembrandt, Michelangelo's unfinished sculpture and heaps of others I already forget. Amazing buildings and architecture. We couldn't get into the throne room as we are at the end of the season and it's closed for renovation. Bugger it. Anyway... What we did see was really really good. Huge stone urns, immense areas of parquetry flooring, marble staircases, huge chandeliers. The paintings range from tiny to the size of the height of a wall. We are so tired and very ignorantly.... We had started to get bored. We wish we were more cultural but we aren't. We only skimmed what's there. It's huge. 4 buildings full. It would take days to do it all properly. I got some ok photos in there. Amazingly they let you use cameras, just no flash in any rooms with photos. They even let people photograph the daVincis and other masters. I couldn't believe it.

Anyway, finally checked in at our motel after more sightseeing by bus, and this room whilst modern has no ambience, nor a kettle, nor a bath, nor complimentary water. Basically a bed and a shower.

So I needed to wash my jeans... I wish I'd done it in Moscow. But I had a plan even if it was flawed and I've misguidedly carried it out. I washed them in the sink, and heaps of black dye has come out. It's now dripping ominously onto the white tiles in the shower. It's too late now.. I have no backup plan. What a disaster. I can only hope they dry before the people kick me out. My room looks like a Chinese laundry but I can't stand having dirty washing. I know that's silly but that's the way it is. Now I have to live with whatever consequences may come my way.

There's another church here reminiscent of st basils, it's called the church of the saviour on spilled blood. We got a good photo which I'll load when I can.

This place has a very different feel to Moscow, the way it's put together, the colours, the parklands, the rivers/canals. Dunno.. Friendlier? It's just nicer.

The boys think so too. They think it's the colour and light. Moscow is somehow sombre and serious. St Petersburg is more European?

Whilst I was catching up on my emails and blog the boys napped and then explored the local shopping centre. So by the agreed time for dinner they had a plan. We had thought we might eat at the hotel restaurant but the boys had Sussex it out as being Bavarian. Not that Bavarian would be a problem but Kevin isn't very keen on sausages. So we went over to the food court but that was ordinary and ended up in 'Thank God it's Friday'.

The food was ok when we got it, but nothing flash. The service however was odd. My main meal came out well in advance of the entree. It eventually turned up and then so did the boys burgers and all was well apart from the fact that the waiter told us he dropped the top of David's burger. He said he would bring another but didn't. We got a jug of beer on the waiter's recommendation. He told us our first choice was 'shit'. He was very flamboyant and Kevin said he got up to plenty of antics up at the bar.

When he brought our sweets he apologised again for the lack of cream on Kevin's sundae. We said don't worry about it. He then said well here's what I'll do. I won't charge you for the second jug of beer or the sweets. We just looked at him. When Kevin got back we told him what he said. When the bill came sure enough it was like he said... But also a note. I'll upload it. It said .... As discussed... I haven't charged you for the beer or sweets... If you just leave 1000 roubles. So the guy was a thief. I gave Kevin my share, and he paid on the card. He left 500 roubles. So that was that.

The two Lynne's had more trouble. They ate at a French restaurant and then the place wouldn't take credit cards and they had no cash. One of them had to leave and bring back cash. They seem to find difficulty with money issues wherever they go. Changing money isn't easy here either. There is a machine here but you can only change existing money. Here's how it works. You put in a credit card, and then put in your cash. You then exchange the cash for roubles. However as well as wanting your card it doesn't take $$AU...

These ladies only have AU. They seem to think the world will bend to their will. They haven't quite come to grips with the fact they are in Russia. They need to get with the program I think.

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