Sunday, July 02, 2006

Brief Impressions of Russia

I checked my email in St. Petersburg yesterday and found a few emails asking why I hadn't been blogging about my trip and could I please do so soon. It made me feel very popular. are some brief first impressions of Russia, with more detail and photos to come soon when I am in London next week.

The Simpsons in Russian is hilarious. It is dubbed, but not completely so you hear American Marge speaking and then one second later the Russian Marge chimes in on top. 'Aye Carumba' is translated as 'Aye Carumba'.

Stereotypes ring loud and true. Young Russian women look very much like Russian mail-order brides and they all wear ridiculous stiletto heels. In fact, on the flight back today when the safety announcement said: 'In the case of evacuation, remove high heeled shoes as they may tear the evacuation slide', my travelling mate Charlie said, 'Pfft. The Russians are all going down with the plane.' Also brilliant were the tough looking men in heavy leather jackets in the sweltering heat and old, scarved headed woman selling cigarettes out of tattered briefcases on street corners.

The Hermitage and Mariinsky Theatre far exceeded my heightened expectations. More on that with photos later.

Sidewalks are considered decorative details of the road. While I have experienced insane drivers in other parts of Europe and Asia, Russians take the cake. In a 5 minute span on Nevsky Prospect I was almost run over by maniacs on bicycles, rollerblades, vespas, horses, and a car.

The Russian bliny rivals the French crepe.

There is interesting dichotomy everywhere. Old, falling apart cars next to Alfa Romeos, gorgeous Tsar extravagance next to blocks of Soviet housing units, designer boutiques next to statues of Lenin.

In one word, the trip was: Wow.

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