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08 September 2011 @ 06:33 pm
So today was spent mostly watching the DVDs I got with a voucher I received for my birthday last month. All in all, not a bad way to spend the day. :)

Some clips:

I'd actually forgotten Dave Chapelle was in Men in Tights... or maybe I just didn't know about him when I last watched it?
Current Location: home
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
This will be my last summary post on Russia, I'll try to wrap up the last two days and a little of the flight back, and then anything else I post will just be musings if I think of something I'd previously forgotten (which is probably a lot of stuff to be honest).

I actually just posted out a bunch of gifts for people today, and I've sent postcards to my family in Australia. I'll give you guys your gifts when I see you as I'll have to explain what they are and where I got them. My friends in the US though (Nezu, Seijikat, Emily and Ana) you guys should get a package in a few weeks time. :3

So without further ado, on to the last couple of days of our trip!

With the Hermitage seen we decided to go through our options for the last couple of days, there were still a few things on our list we hadn't seen such as the Blockade Museum and other little tidbits, but we ended up deciding on the Museums of Ethnography and Zoology (two separate places) for reasons which I'm sure will become apart in the description.

Setting out we jumped on the Metro again and took a few stops down to the other side of the river than we'd been on a few days before, we knew we had a bit of a walk ahead of us but what started out being a 20 minute walk turned into almost an hour when we ended up taking a wrong turn and walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction. We became a bit suspicious when we hadn't hit the river and instead seemed to be walking into an industrial zone with nothing more around than the only real pedestrian light crossing we'd seen in the entire time we'd been in Russia.

We trekked back and thankfully managed not to slip over again on the sheets of ice along the footpath, but decided after being out for so long in the cold that it was time for a little lunch. We thus stopped at the first place we could find, the KFC near the station we'd started off from, which turned out be somewhat amusing when a homeless man walking in, asked the cashier for a freebie, then stole someones drink and walked out again while I was ordering.

Warmed up again we took off in the right direction this time and it wasn't long before we were wandering along the river and found ourselves walking past the sphinxes. Unfortunately my shots of them didn't turn out properly, but Mon may have gotten a shot in her stuff yet to be posted.

I did however grab a cute shot of Mon squishing her face when I turned to snap her picture

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Current Location: Home
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
22 February 2011 @ 04:44 pm
The next day was dedicated entirely to the Hermitage, for those who don't know, the place is huge, and as it's now a combination of 4 buildings including The Winter Palace and the small, old and new Hermitages, it has about 300-400 rooms of paintings, sculpture, museum pieces and just general awesome architecture to go through.

We arrived at about 10am as that's when the place opened, we knew it was going to take us all day to get around the place so we wanted to give ourselves as much time as possible as it wasn't in our schedule to go back again.

Outside the main entrance is a huge sheet of slippery ice across the cobblestones, no fun at all to walk across, though we managed to get across it the first time with no falls.

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Current Location: Work
Current Mood: tiredtired
So I'm back at work today, but still 4 days behind in writeups. I just edited all of my pictures though and there should be over 40 new ones coming at you within the next 3-4 posts before I wrap it all up. Hope you enjoy!

We got up the next morning and headed back to the very cold park that we got lost in the day before, thankfully this time we had a pretty good understanding of how to get where we wanted to since we'd seen all around the icy place previously and thus made our way over to the bridge that connects to the island that the Peter and Paul Fortress sits on.

On the way we spotted this monument which we suspect was about the floods that happened in 1824

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Current Location: Work
Current Mood: hungryhungry
19 February 2011 @ 10:23 pm
So we just touched down back in Australia after a very long two part flight, the last 12 hour leg of which my entertainment system didn't work. :S
I ended up watching 75% of RED though and was quite enjoying it, so I might have to get it sometime and catch the last 30 mins.

Just letting you all know that Mon and I are safely home and feeling tired, but less stinky after our first showers in 48 hours.

Will be back tomorrow with write ups on the last few days of our trip as well as the photos we're behind on. In the meantime, it's nice to be able to relax on our couch again. :3
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Current Location: Home
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Hot Shots on TV
18 February 2011 @ 04:12 pm
It's been a few days since I posted, I've been meaning to however unfortunately it takes a long time to sit down and type up a big long description of everything I've been doing. Add to this the fact that Mon and I are sharing the same laptop and both have to do this, well, you can see how it would become difficult for us to keep up to date.

I started these posts mostly as a way to keep a track of my thoughts at the end of the day, write down the things I remember and have a virtual record of what my experiences were so I can look back at a later date and remember all the things I've probably already forgotten. It's been a bonus that so many people have been excited to read what we've been up to, and I thank all of you who have commented or just mentioned that you've been keeping up with my posts.

My apologies if I've worried anyone by not keeping up to date when we got to St. Petersburg, but with the dodgy internet at the hotel, which has a habit of stopping for hours whenever you're ready to post something, and the absolute multitude of things we've had to do each day, it just hasn't been my first priority to spend my time getting my thoughts down. I know I probably worried a few relatives by not posting regularly like I did at the beginning of the trip, but since you guys could have emailed or called me at any point to see if we were still ok, I'm going to assume those weren't grave concerns.

Anyway, to catching up!
This probably won't be quite as detailed as some of the other days as I think I'm about 4 days behind now, but I'll cover all the major points I can remember, and some of the silly anecdotal stuff may have to wait until I remember it sometime later.
Unfortunately this post won't have any photos in it just yet, I'll come back and do a big St. Petersburg picture post once we get back to Australia, unfortunately we have several days worth of photos to copy from the camera, edit and upload, so it's going to take a little time to get all that in order.
In the meantime, here's what we've been up to!

Walking around in -18c!Collapse )
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Jazz Loops
15 February 2011 @ 02:33 am
Waking up in our hotel was a welcome change from the last day and a bit of dragging bags around between trains and across streets of ice and snow, as such we spent a bit of time sleeping in before reluctantly dragging ourselves downstairs for breakfast. This hotel is actually situated above a restaurant which is always a good backup for when you're too tired to go anywhere else. We actually ate there the first night which I don't think I mentioned in my other reply, but it was quite reasonable and apart from us being one of the only customers each time we've been, the place seems very new and respectable. They have an odd decoration sense though as one wall is entirely covered in plates with russian words stuck on them, and the rest of the pictures appear to be of the serpent who chases his own tail and ends the world when he catches it.

The breakfast buffet was very good, we've seen many different forms of breakfast so far, and while each had their own merits, the 5th Corner in St. Petersburg isn't bad at all. The restaurant is actually called Xren, but so far I haven't seen anyone in there apart from guests, so it's easy to think of it as the hotel restaurant regardless. We enjoyed some crossaints, eggs, sausages, yoghurt, coffee and juice and crawled right back up to our rooms to flop back into bed and think of what to do next. The only thing we needed to do for sure during the day was pick up our tickets from the Mariinsky Theatre as we had paid online to see the 10th anniversary production of the Nutcracker.

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Current Location: Offy's House, St Petersburg
Current Mood: thirstythirsty
Current Music: Smooth Jazz
15 February 2011 @ 02:26 am
Edit: Posting this from the KOFE HAUZ across the street from our hotel as the internet wasn't working when we left this morning and we're in need of some warm coffee after the big day we've had. I'm referring to this particular place as Offy's House though due to the missing K on the sign. Emily, I don't think Offy would be too interested in owning a place like this though unfortunately. XD

I'm currently typing this up from the hotel room in St Petersburg, unfortunately our internet access isn't working, and will hopefully be fixed by tomorrow, but for now I'm going to type this all up and post it when I next get a chance, whether that be the fixed connection or just some WiFi enabled coffee shop like the one across the road.

We left Smolensk after enjoying one last breakfast in the downstairs restaurant, packing our things and communicating with the lady on the desk mostly through a series of figures written on paper and pointing at things. We got her to order us a taxi though as Mon knew the Russian for that and it arrived very quickly, which we were especially grateful for as we'd gotten our coats and scarves on which can quickly become way way too hot when inside a building. (once you add things like layers and thermal underwear into the equation)

The taxi driver was much less seedy than the last one which took us from the station to the hotel, but his car was still 30 years old and had seat covers which made it look like some kind of mythical blue leapord. He seemed slightly unenthused by the fact that the people he'd picked up from the hotel had luggage though and attempted to get his boot (trunk for all you Americans) open to accomodate it. I say attempted because he didn't actually succeed, whether the lock was frozen shut or whether the car was just too old to have a functioning boot I'm not sure, but he played around with a lighter trying to defrost it for a few minutes before giving up and helping us just load our suitcases into the back seat. This meant that I had to sit up along side him in the passengers seat while Mon cradled our bags in the bag. Thankfully this meant that I actually had a seatbelt, though Mon was still left without, though she really didn't have anywhere to go with the suitcases packed in with her. He took off at speed and after sliding a little over the roads on the way we arrived at the train station unscathed and with all of our belongings intact. He only charged 100rubles (just over $3) for the ride, half of what the other guy had charged us for the same trip in the middle of the night a few days earlier, and still a fraction of what you'd pay in Australia.

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Current Location: Offy's House, St Petersburg
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Some jazz loop
13 February 2011 @ 01:39 pm
Hey everyone,
Just letting you know that Mon and I are well and enjoying St Petersburg. Unfortunately our hotel Internet has a habit of dropping out everytime I catch up on everything and try to post. They are trying to fix it but their isp doesn't work on the weekend, hopefully I'll be able to update soon as i'm now 4 days behind.

You can still email me, i'm doing my best to pick up my emails on my phone from coffee places around the city.
We're off now to the Artillery museum, our next few days are very busy during the day.

Catch you all soon I hope!
10 February 2011 @ 08:47 am
Today we got up late again and ended up at breakfast 30 minutes after we told reception we would be, we seem to be making a habit of that, who would have thought wandering downstairs at 9am would be so hard? I blame how comfortable this bed is, it seems to beckon you to go back to sleep every time you lay down. I'm fighting it right now actually.

Anyway today's breakfast was some oatmeal with apple and nuts in it, some yoghurt and some fruit salad, all of which were very good, in fact I'll be having two of those items again tomorrow because of it. We've actually had a few meals in the restaurant downstairs now, it's quite good, a bit pricier than non-hotel restaurants, but nothing more than what you'd expect in Australia, and given that we're a reasonable walk from the city, really our only option.

Last night we had some kind of steak in a rich sauce with potatoes and some bread rolls to start. I even ordered some Irish Whisky while we waited for our steak to cook because I'd never had it before and was quite curious if it was much different to the Scotch which I'd had in the past. This proved a slight challenge to communicate as I also wanted to order a couple of cokes, but didn't want them mixed together. It came across ok in the end though and I give it the thumbs up, less of a bite and more of a burn. Pricey to order at a hotel bar of course, but I managed to stop myself from order the 18 year old version they had there for 3 times as much. XD

Anyway, after breakfast this morning we headed off in the opposite direction down our snowy street. This proved to be a slight challenge as the path was not as wide or as well trodden and we ended up shin depth in snow a few times before we made it back to the main road. With that accomplished with no casualties however we headed towards town and decided to make our first stop the Russian Vodka Museum. Unfortunately when we found the place it wasn't very clearly marked, and being not particularly game to just poke our heads into a random building marked as some kind of Demonstration Hall, we decided to just give the tiny place a miss and continue on to Assumption Cathedral.

Click for details on today and photos, including Me!Collapse )
Current Location: Usadba Hotel, Smolensk
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Mon Sleeping