Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peter and Paul Fortress and Stachevember 2.0 Fail

I feel like I need to compensate for the fact that I didn't post much of anything this week. So here I am with my second post of the weekend. Today we were quite touristy and spent the day at the Peter and Paul Fortress, the center of old St. Petersburg and the city's main defensive installation. The fortress, in typical Russian fashion, is an inexplicable mix-match of things. Barouque, neo-classical, and any number of different style of architecture compete for attention, just as the varied different museums, monuments, and beaches compete for one's time. We started out our day at the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the city's first, and the final resting place for the members of the Romanov Dynasty. As most things commissioned by the Romanovs, the Cathedrals interior was ostentatious and opulent to the extreme, but the caskets however, were surprisingly plain. Simple white marble tombs with an orthodox cross on the cover. We spent a good hour there, tacking on to different tour groups and trying to puzzle together the long and complicated Romanov family tree. Except for wanting to give a piece of my mind to some Chinese tourist who chose to sit on some poor Tsar's tomb, it was quite enjoyable and one the highlights of the day. After a short break and some surprisingly good ice cream (who would have ever thought orange and mint ice cream would go well together with white chocolate?), we moved on to the fortress's prison, which housed such notable inmates as Maxim Gorky, Leon Trotsky, and Vladimir Lenin's brother. The prison was actually pretty boring, plus we had an insufferable group of French tourists in front of us, who took up the entire corridor and wouldn't let us past. After that it was off to the space museum (why would an 18th Century fortress have a museum about space and rocket technology you ask? I couldn't tell you...) another museum that was slightly disappointing, and probably hadn't seen an update since the end of the Soviet Union. Lastly, it was the fortress museum, which we had been led to believe was a walk along the fortress's walls. While that was not the case, the museum was fascinating and provided some relief from the sun outside. We ended our day with lying on the bank of the Neva outside the fortress. It was about seven, and while looking at the sun you would think it was still noon, it had cooled down to a rather pleasant temperature. After an hour of sun-bathing (my skin now almost doesn't look like I've lived in a dark cave my whole life) and "admiring" the Russians and their interesting swimwear choices (speedos don't look good on fat Russian men)I went back home.
Starting around the first of July, I was thinking about things I could do/write about in my blog. After too little thought, I settled on the idea of doing a second Stachevember. Stachevember, celebrated in November (hence the name) is a yearly exercise in humiliation as my friends and I spend a month growing rather disgusting mustaches (an accompanying facial hair). Stachvember is always fun, we write our own blog about it, and it's fun to watch us all grow from mostly well-kept young men into men who look like they're homeless. However, this Stachevember 2.0 was not at all fun. Needless to say, growing a grody disgusting beard by one's self in the middle of summer isn't really all that much fun. As such, as of today I officially throw in the towel and concede my attempts at Stachevemeber 2.0.
That about does it for me. I wanted to watch the Germany-Uruguay world cup game, but unfortunately the channel it was on comes through as static on my home tv. I hope the Germans won, I thought they deserved to go all the way to the finals. Tomorrow is my third rabies shot, but other than that I don't have anything planned, it might just turn into a homework day. Now I'm sitting and admiring the first true darkness I've seen in about a month (it's 1AM and the sun set about 20 minutes ago).

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