We are in St. Petersburg! We had a wonderful last day in Moscow. It was sunny and beautiful. We left first thing in the morning from our apartment and stood in line for an hour to see Lenin. James said to tell you that we did see him, but he was asleep so we had to be really quiet and couldn't take any pictures. What I didn't know is that behind Lenin's tomb, there are the graves of all the other founders of the Communist party in Russia. It was a somber and thoughtful tour for us, made richer by my Russian history classes at UAA. Red square itself was closed, we could only walk around the periphery. Anyway, I'll have to be less detailed or I'll never get to St. Petersburg. Next we ate delicious meat wraps called "Shaurma," walked down Arbat street, visited an overwhelmingly massive CD and DVD market, called all our Muscovite friends to say goodbye, took our suitcases to the train station, walked across the river to Red square (where James captured some gorgeous photos), heard the clock tower strike midnight, and made it to the train station just in time take the 1 am train to St. Petersburg.
I felt so blessed. God allowed us to have a special time in the city I called home; He gave James a good picture of my life and work here; and He blessed us with new shared memories to keep forever.
Our train trip to St. Petersburg was nearly uneventful. We slept on the top bunks of a four person coupe. The couple beneath us allowed us to stow our (now much heavier) bags underneath their beds. They seemed terrified of speaking with us there and soon went to sleep. I love sleeping on a train. 1. The train movement is soothing and 2. the ride is not boring and 3. you don't have to pay for a hotel and transportation, they are both in one. However, for some reason, maybe the heat, maybe sleeping in my clothes, I kept waking up and the sore muscles I had accumulated from the day before didn't heal completely.
We were greeted at the train station by a friendly representative of our Bed and Breakfast. We were tired, smelly, and rumpled and happy to be heading to a place we could relax in. On the way to the car, James started trying to find his passport. He searched he bag and his pockets, but couldn't see it. Our foggy brains started clearing immediately. This was a problem. Our driver took me and the baggage to the car, where I repeatedly searched our hand luggage, while James went back to the traincar to search and solicit help from the conductress. They came back a half hour later with nothing. We drove to the hotel, somberly realizing that we would have to have a new passport, new visa, and new registration issued in a weekend. It couldn't possibly happen. We arrived at the hotel, James pulled out his carry-on, opened the flap, and realized that he had put his passport in the same hidden compartment he always had (while I had searched his bag three times). We thanked God, laughed sheepishly, and put both our passports into the perfect hiding space.
Our bed and breakfast is an ancient building with ceilings even higher than Stalin era ones, pastel painted walls, and quaint antique artifacts sprinkled liberally throughout our room and the reception area. Our room is yellow and green. After showering and changing, we walked our aching bodies over to the Hermitage, practically next door. We spend a beautiful afternoon inside one of the largest and most extensive museums in the world. We were by turns overwhelmed and amazed at the incredible numbers of rooms filled with incredible numbers of gorgeous pieces of art. Many were extremely famous. We saw works by Da Vinci, Renoir, Michelangelo, Rodin, Picasso, Rembrant, and on and on. After four and a half hours, we reluctantly left the beautiful palace and went back to our Bed and Breakfast for an obligatory nap. We woke three hours later and headed out to see the beautiful city of White nights.
After dinner at an extremely authentic Greek restaurant, we enjoyed a stroll down various canals, turning corners to find lovely palaces, elegant memorials, or historic churchs. We walked until 11:30 and the light never faded, nor did the clusters of tourists walking in noisy little groups down the sidewalk. We stopped to listen to a man playing Moonlight Sonata and Bach on his accordion. St. Petersburg is classic.