Friday, 4 December 2009

Russia! St Petersburg and Moscow

4 - 8 November

We had originally planned on getting the train through Belarus to St Petersburg (from Warsaw), but it didn't work out with our visas so we ended up flying in instead. This is a great city, unfortunately we only had 1 whole day to see it. It's not really enough, but we managed to get into the Hermitage (huuuuge State Museum inside the Summer Palace) for free and wandered about in there for a few hours. We spent the afternoon walking around the streets and shopping for a Russian fur hat for Rach's dad - found a nice one at an Army Surplus store, so it's the real deal, including the Soviet Star hat pin!

St Petersburg

St Petersburg

St Petersburg

Our train left at 1am for Moscow, so we pretty much slept the whole way until we turned up at 9am. As part of our Trans Siberian train we had a tour guide show us around Moscow for 3 hours, it was a bit much after just getting off the train but ended up being really good.

We visited Food Store #1 which was the first state food store of the Soviet Union, or so we were lead to believe. It was an amazingly opulent place, we picked up some caviar, vodka, and blini (surprisingly cheap, tho the caviar was red not black).

We walked down the main street of Moscow, past the Bolshoi, and ended up outside the Kremlin in Red Square.

Moscow

In the morning we went out to a flea market to see if we could find a camera for Rach. After some bargaining and failed attempts we were successful and picked up a Russian Lomo 135 M for a pretty good price, which we still don't know if it works properly as nobody in China will process films... maybe in Hong Kong? We're having fun trying to use it - it has both ordinary f-stops and shutter speeds, but no light meter, so you have to guess or use their funny 'calculator' (pictures of weather conditions and scenes you might be shooting) to take a guess at exposures, which is half the fun! This model has a pretty cool 'spring' winder feature, where you can wind it up to take 8 frames in a row, unlike most 35 mm cameras which have to be wound for each frame.

Lomo camera

In the evening we went to the Moscow State Circus which was kind of weird. As we walked in somebody had been mauled by one of the tigers that you can have your photo taken with, we skipped that attraction. The whole show is on an ice rink and was quite good, up until the performing seals voided their bowels all over the ice anyway. No photos of that as you weren't allowed cameras in the theatre, probably for the best. One of the best acts was a Jaguar or Panther (big black cat), that was misbehaving, so the handler just ended up ditching the cat and skating around herself in the end!

In the morning we headed down to the Kremlin and visited Lenin's tomb. This was a totally weird experience, you basically have to walk through the mausoleum following a whole bunch of unwritten rules that the guards will enforce if you happen to break one, like putting your hands in your pockets or stopping to take a look for more than 2 seconds. It was all a bit comical really, and Lenin was looking a bit green as well. It turned out the Kremlin was closed, so we didn't get to go inside which was a bummer. We did go to the Armoury though which contains all kinds of state treasures.

Moscow

Moscow

More photos on flickr here - St Petersburg, Moscow.

Next up, the Trans-Siberian train!

1 comment:

  1. I love the pot on your head in St Petersburg!!!Liz

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