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A Day Down the Mines

Hoi I’m tired. We spent the day in the city, Valentina, Tanya, Jo and I.

We caught a dinky little bus to the Metro station, then went on the underground. The escalators to the subway here are the longest escalators I’ve ever been on. It’s like the underground really is underground. Unlike Sydney where we just build buildings on top of our rail lines and call them underground, St Petersburg has it’s trains in mines. It’s like your own little Beaconsfield adventure every time you want to catch the train. So I’m most impressed by big escalators.

I’ve noticed that Soviet architecture seems to be stuck in the late 50s/early 60s. Like they got a guy in in 1956 to design their buildings and never let him leave the planning office or look at an architectural magazine again. Perhaps bad taste was a prerequisite for being a communist leader. Although the Chinese are going great guns with their buildings. If I ever become a communist I’m going to be a Chinese one.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes on the train.

We caught the train to the city and arrived near this massive Orthodox church. It was very impressive. One of the churches that St Petersburg should be well known for except that they have so many other grand churches. Actually the church might be famous and I’m just ignorant, so I won’t tell you what church it was in case I look bad. Valentina told me that during the Soviet era the church was turned into a Museum of Atheism. Other churches I learnt about today were turned into swimming pools and alcohol stores. They had a wacky sense of humour those communists. Bad architects but they knew how to crack a mean ironic gag when they needed to.

We didn’t get to look at the church because we had a bus to catch. We caught a tour bus out to Pushkin, the town named after that famous Russian poet, William Blake. Our tour guide spoke the whole tour in Russian which was kinda surreal, but it gave us a good excuse not to feel guilty falling asleep while she talked at us. I heard she was boring in Russian too, so Jo and I were probably the lucky few.

Pushkin held the Catherine Palace, which was large and palace like. Lots of statues, golden walls and painted ceilings. It was pretty cool but you had to be there. Elton John was once.

On the way back the bus dropped us off and we got to look at the big memorial to the 1941-44 siege of St Petersburg. The Nazis were ripping up Russia but were stopped dead at St Petersburg. So they hang around for 3 years. I thing something like 800,000 people died in the siege. That was about a third of the cities population. The siege left a massive mark on the city. One which it still seems to be carrying today. You can see little memorials to it everywhere or in the case of the memorial we saw, big ones too. It was really impressive. I liked going there, it was solemn and respectful and instilled a sense or reverence for those who were in the siege. I’m glad I got to go to that.

Down the road we saw a big statue of Lenin. I wanted to visit that because I recognised it from posters in the window of a pub in Glebe that has cheap vodka night on Tuesdays or something and has appropriated Lenin’s statue to sell more vodka. So we visited it and it satisfied me.

This evening we went to another palace to see a traditional Russian folk music and dance performance. It was pretty fun. One of the guys in the band had the biggest bass guitar I have ever seen. And the dancers were crazy. Like Breakthru’ Artz with more crazy spins and moustaches. Ok they weren’t like Breakthru, I just though the picture of Breakthru Artz with crazy spins and moustaches was funny, so I thought I’d plant the image in everyone else’s head.

Now I’m home and I think I might sleep. It’s 11:25pm it’s still light and there’s a man hanging half way down the units across the road installing an air conditioner. If that doesn’t say bed time, I don’t know what does.