Photos to come...
Out of all of the countries that I've been to that were particularly difficult to navigate through, Russia ranks among the highest. Not only is the language difficult to understand by ear, but it has its own alphabet. And it may look easy to understand at a first glance, but looks can be deceiving. For instance, 'H' in Russian, is 'N' in English, and so on. And not too many people speak English, so you result to alot of miming.
My first stop was in Moscow. My hostel left little to be desired. The place was tiny, dirty, the shower wasn't always functioning, staff were incompetent. If you go to Moscow, avoid the 'Sweet Moscow' hostel. But all the only gives you more incentive to see the city. My first stop was obviously the Kremlin.
As I've said many times before, I beleive that all religions are nothing but hocus pocus. But I have enough respect to foreign cultures to atleast acknowledge their existence in the world, despite how many casualties or oppression they may cause. The Kremlin is a series of cathedrals and various government buildings situated within the gigantic protective fortress. But the piece of architecture that really impressed me was the Pokrovsky Cathedral. Clearly, the Russian feds didn't keep the local architects from experimenting with LSD.
After Moscow, it was off to St Petersburg. I kind if liked it more than Moscow. Even though there was less english posted than in Moscow, the locals seem to have a greater kinship with foreigners. Well all except for one cab driver. I was with a girl from my previous hostel and after spending the entire morning walking around the Peter and Paul Fortress, we decided to take a short cab ride. The ride should have cost us no more than 100 roubles (around $4), but then when he pulled over, he pressed some sort of magic button on the meter and it jumped from 80 roubles to 800! Needless to say, he did not get 800!
Obviously my first stop was the Winter Palace. Holy mofoing mofo! That is one palace!
I later went to the Hermitage. Now, I've been to more than my fair share of art galleries. In my opinion, this ranks among one of the best. It houses more than 3 million pieces. If you were to stand infront of each piece for 1 minute, it would take you more than 5 years to see every piece at the Hermitage(many of those pieces are coins).
It is highly believed that Moscow is the most expensive city in the world. If you went there, you would see why, Both Moscow and St Petersburg are extremely high end cities. You won't see a WalMart or a Dunkin' Donuts anywhere. Even Starbucks is considered 'low brow'! Everything is Gucci, Prada, or public humiliation. I'm fairly sure that I am the only female currently in Russia that is in flats (hiking boots!) But their lifestyle begs the question, if you spend that much on disposable expenses, whats left for things like rent and food?
Anyway, next stop, Estonia!