I went to Russia on the 22nd of June and came back a week and a half later! Above is the recorded adventure and below is the pictured one (the two being quite different). Excuse it being long, my blog is for my own future reference and for remembering the smaller details that time deletes from the travel memory.
I chose to travel to Russia since I knew I would find the cultural magnitude interesting even if the group proved not to be. I did know that since the destination was so cultural the others would be not just a few years other than me and I was prepared for that.
I travelled on my own but with a group of others that I had not met beforehand. I was to meet them at the hotel in Moscow and therefore landed alone in the airport - it had a pretty neat ceiling! Moscow is a bit worn down, but they do clean it thoroughly on a daily basis (I saw the water-spraying trucks zooming by - hell, I was sprinkled!)
I went to see the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts which had some lovely pieces and ceilings but didn't overwhelm me.
On our way to the next museum, Tretyakov Gallery, we stumbled upon a M.U. poster (I am basically sobbing with frustration that we do not have it yet) and a love-locket bridge. They're everywhere now!
All you need is love, da da dada. And some culture from the fortress (Kremlin).
We saw one of the many Stalin apartment complexes and I must admit that their are awesome, in the awe-inspiring sense of the word. + they look a bit like something from a Batman comic.
The Tretyakov Gallery only have Russian artworks on display. I found some of the historic portraits of the Tsars and Russian inhabitants very interesting (the first one is Ivan the Terrible having just murdered his own son) while Mikhail Vrubel's works completely blew me away.
We met up with the rest of the group on the Red Square, which was paid visit by some very well-known Western characters. I cringed very hard about that sparkllliiiingu Spiderman.
Saint Isaac's Cathedral!
We stood in line to get into the Kremlin and the Armoury for a good while and then took in the beauty of the Fabergé Eggs and the other jewellery and decorative pieces inside the Armoury. I especially enjoyed the Coronation gowns.
Note that double-headed eagle on the dress - Russia's symbol. Can you tell what the red sign says? c;
Ain't I adorable in front of that cracked bell? So tiny.
When darkness fell upon the city I went out on my own to experience the Red Square by night - might have been a bit more challenging than I first would have assumed + could have potentially been dangerous. But the only people out that night were the students' parents.
Red limousine - classy classy. And we re-visited the Armoury the next day...
... Before eating our lunch at this super delicious Asian restau. These rice burgers were fantastic!
I then joined forces with two from the group and we went to explore the historic metro of Moscow, started by Lenin. Filled to the brim with artworks in every style of every sort it was quite an experience!
We visited the Izmailovo Market since we got nearby on our tour du metro anyway. I bought my matryoshki there. So many different kinds even though half the stalls were closed! I only spent about 30 minutes there though, since I was with two impatient men, haha.
Why so beautiful, rip-off-Disney-dolls?
We ate dinner at a traditional canteen - MY MY (the sounds a cow makes) - where locals come and then met up with the others for our overnight train trip to Novgorod!
Cool cool cool cool. And yet so hot! I was in Moscow on the hottest day in 100 years. Just to give you an idea.
Showing the way to the 100.233.555.222 churches in Novgorod. Ending up in Pushkin in the Catherine Palace.
The palace before and after the second world war. Very interesting to see the amazing restoration job done !
Rob's dinner was the size of his head. And I watched Anastasia and cried like a baby because I'd just been to the palace that resembles the one in the film the most.
Pavlosk Palace looking cheeky!
Strutting down the pathways on a biiiike.
Arriving in Saint Pete.
Haha, the entrance matryoshka to the erotic museum was actually pretty cute!
And on the third (last) day (of Christmas) my shoe broke. My beloved Campers that has stuck with me through thin and thick BROKE. So naturally I picked up some glue and soldiered on the last few days with glued-together shoes.
Yes, that is my Indian and Indonesian dinner. A lot of restaurants in Russia have all-around-the-world menus, since that is the culinary thing to have in their culture now. It makes for a very interesting dining experience every day!
Boat triiiip. And that bridge was made by Eiffel. As in the Eiffel Tower.
Our day-guide had brought a book of historic photographs that made it possible for us to see how the only 300-year old city had evolved from then to now.
Winter Palace AKA the Hermitage Museum. I was dying when I saw that gorgeous library in the Romanov apartments.
Some sort of fire fighters celebration was held on the square. It was pretty funny how nothing was ever written or explained in anything but Russian - made for a very confusing trip throughout!
Dearest Degas, how I love you so. And since we had to get a special permission in order to hand in our audio guides on the staircase venue after it had been closed off we got to see it completely empty!
Let me hear a WOOP WOOP.
We ate at a brewery-turned-restaurant and said our goodbyes. The next day we were only 4 people of the group left in the city and we all went to see Peter's Cabin, the building Peter ordered created in 3 days and only stayed in for about 3 weeks.
I'm your basic classy Russian. No, really. A lot of people mistook me for being an actual Russian girl - it was both very odd, and very cute when these little 5-year old girls came up to me and started blabbering at me in very quick Russian, expecting me to understand perfectly and completely ignoring my companions.
Moscow has a pretty mosque! And when we went to Peter and Paul's cathedral we just had to see the clock tower view. It was nice and breezy up there!
The boat from which the revolution start blows were fired!
Yusupov Palace with all its' secret get-away doors (!!) and great details.
Final supper with the last remaining of the group (in mirror) before seeing the Church of the Spilled Blood and waiting for his cabbie to the airport. I then had a day on my own.
I spent it with a Russian girl called Anna! We arranged a meet-up on a connecting site called Sputnik and she was just such a doll! Super sweet and I was so thankful to not actually be alone all day - she provided lovely and funny company.
We went to the Udelnaya Flea Market just outside of town and I posed as the "not very talkative friend" while she tried to bargain with the dealers. I got some very inexpensive things because of this - they raise the prices tremendously if you're a foreigner.
I didn't buy a lot of things, but I am very pleased with the items I did get. Above are my matryoshki and a few of the things I got.
I was a unhappy with how the trip was planned and felt time and time again that I was my own travel planner rather than having a thoughtful and guiding group leader. I'm just thankful I'm such a quick reader - it made it possible for me to read the two Lonely Planets quickly enough for me to know what was going on and where to go in order for me to have an all-right trip. It was just annoying to feel that each time you had a great experience it was entirely your own willpower that brought it to you.