Monday, April 2

Venäjä... aka Russia!

Last weekend I went to St. Petersburg with Rotary, and it was AMAZING! It was by far the most beautiful city I have ever been in. I honestly don't even know how to describe it, so I will post some pictures (which definitely don't do the city any justice)
the view out my hotel window

the winter palace with my friend grayce

kunst kamera museum (description about this coming up)

a church (gorgeous... but no pictures of inside.. there was a service going on)

peter the great's first house in st. petersburg

an orthodox church

Anyways, here's a bit about what we did in Russia:
The first day was just driving there on the bus and going through customs and such. Funny story: one boy (the first one to try and go through customs) was held up for a long time and they wouldn't let him through because they thought he was the son of a wanted man. But, after about 40 minutes, they finally let him through. 
The next day, we went to some museums. We went to the Hermitage, which part of it is in the Winter Palace shown above. There, we got to see original works by Van Gogh, DaVinci, and Michelangelo. Pretty amazing! I still can't believe that I saw those. Then, we went to Kunst Kamera museum, which is considered the museum of oddities. Also, there are many things dealing with science. There was an observatory in the top of the building, and many different deformities in jars (such as babies with 2 heads, no limbs, and many other things like that). It was definitely interesting, and very strange. 
Then we went to a traditional song/dance show. There were people that sang, a band with traditional instruments, and many different dances and costumes. It was really interesting and very fun! The guys can really do all those kicks and such that you think of when you think of Russian men dancing. 

The next day, we had a tour of the city and just got out and took pictures. I swear every other building was previously a "palace" build to show off their wealth, or built for them to show someone's love for them or something. It was kind of ridiculous, but it meant that all of the buildings were very grand and gorgeous! 
Then we had free time in Nevsky Prospekt (the biggest shopping street in St. Petersburg). We went and ate blinis. (traditional Russian food... kind of like crepes, but folded in a square with stuff in them). Then we just walked around and took lots of pictures, not much shopping was done. That night, we went to a ballet. Two other people and I were in the worst box you could have.... so we didn't see much. But what we could see of it, it was very modern, with no elaborate costumes or anything, and it was strange. But still cool to see a Russian ballet. 

And then, all of a sudden, it was time to leave already. We left in the morning, and made a stop in Viborg, which used to belong to Finland, and was the 2nd largest city in Finland before it was taken away. It was strange to hear people speaking Finnish with a Russian accent. 

Russia (and all of Europe really, compared to the US especially) has so much history! It was great having a tour guide that knew all of it and told us as much as she could. It really interested me. 

Another cool thing, was that in the main part of St. Petersburg, there is (or maybe not anymore, but there used to be at least) a law where all of the buildings had to be bright colors since the weather is so grey all of the time. Because of this, all of the buildings were bright blues, teals, pinks, and yellows. I think that's what really made it be such a beautiful city. But it was definitely a great trip, and something I will never forget. I really hope I can get back there someday and have more time to explore all that it has to offer. 

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