Sunday, July 24, 2011

St Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia

Impressions from a week in Russia

Well, I have to say that the Russian government has done a fantastic job restoring many of its properties after Soviet occupation. At least, the facades. Our Russian guides did an excellent job of presenting the country's treasures, some with much more enthusiasm than others.

However the Soviet period is glossed over in all the commentary. The attitude of our guides seems to be that under Soviet rule there were good and bad points, and under the current regime there are also good and bad points. They don't seem to be willing to make a judgment, and take the attitude "This is how it was. We learnt to live with the limitations, even joke about them in private. We knew what not to do and say"

The other notable aspect of Russia is that people hardly ever smile, especially those in the service and hospitality industries.

Here are some unexpected pictures from Russia
Tiffany's,  Moscow

Macdonalds, Moscow

John, David and Tony, the Three Wise Monkeys, Renaissance Hotel Moscow

Tony and Struan with the Bronze Lady, Novgorod

The bride in the ice cream queue, Peterhof Palace

Workmen sheltering from the sun under the statues, 2 storeys up

Why is there a James Cook Cafe and bar in St. Petersburg? 

Inexperienced drivers must display an ! sign in their window.

Cartier, St. Petersburg
   Our drive from St Petersburg was uneventful and unremarkable except for the major delays going through customs - exiting Russia, then entering Estonia. Still, it could have been worse - trucks wait hours and hours.

And a discovery - Estonians smile!

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