Monday, October 10, 2011

Saint Petersberg

I've only just now recovered from the shock of having more than five people read my previous post.

Russia as a whole seems uninviting to tourists, though you'll never go wanting for lack of interesting things to see, particuarly churches. Especially churches. The church of the Spilt Blood, in St Petersberg, is worth a special note here. Built exactly over the site of a Tsar's assassination, this Church takes inspiration from St Basil's in Moscow, and in some respects improves on it, using building materials from all over the world, in combination with those eye-catching domes seen on all the tourist guides.

Moscow might be the physical and economic capital of Russia, but St Petersberg would be the cultural one. Even the railway stations are designed as works of art, and the Hermitage, once the winter palace of Peter the Great, now houses a monumentally huge art gallery within the arched rooms. I guess my only problem is that my interest in the more recent history is hard to satiate. Russia, it seems, prefers to gloss over most of the USSR regime, with the exception of the few souvenir shops willing to sell anything with a hammer and sickle on it. (Or Babushka dolls featuring the faces of American politicians.)

It's a shame though that a lot of the material I saw could never be satisfactorily explained. Beyond the lax Siberian trio of women minding my hostel, and the American teacher and her dog, there wasn't much interaction at all. What is this strange sport with throwing a pole at wooden columns? Why is my meal hot water with leaves floating in it? Why was I asked to give my opinion on some obscure ruler to a street wandering journalist? I have no idea.

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