Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Duck Didnt Die!

St Petersburg.. a city so nice they named it thrice .. plus one ..

St Petersburg ~ Petrograd ~ Leningrad ~ St Petersburg

After the non smiling experience of the Muscovites it was a very nice to see St Petersburgers actually looking happy. They werent dancing in the streets but they definitely looked like a group of people that didnt hate everything about them.

Good old St Petes is a groovy city. Less busy than Moscow and with a lot more Olde Worlde Charme.

Our hostel was a reconditioned factory.. and they seemed to have reconditioned it into a prison. Tiny rooms with bunk beds, grey walls with no windows and terrible brown water in the taps. I started taking a shiv into the shower cubicle so i wouldnt be shanked! Girlclumsy points out that she has no need to shank me as she controls the money on the trip.... but im keeping the jade knife i bought in Lake Baikal close to me just to be sure. These persian~polish~irish crossbreeds are a moody lot!

One of my first memories of St Petersburg was finding out that Steve Irwin had been killed by a stingray. We went to the Australian consulate to try and vote and found out that russians had been ringing the consulate all day passing on their condolences. Love him or hate him you have to admit the crazy guy sure did promote australia all over the world in a very positive way. Bon Voyage, Steve!

Peter the Great was a bit of a dude. Sure he was an absolute monarch and had a habit of throwing his weight around (for example... he banned all stone masons from practising anywhere in russia except for St Petersburg until the city was fully built) but he mucked in and actually helped build the original Peter and Paul Fortress... he also lived in a tiny 2 bedroom wooden shack for ages and ages to the horror of his royal peers. Bascially he wanted to build the sexiest city in the universe and he picked a filthy swamp to do it. What this means is today you have a lovely canal based city chock full of historical sexiness... a fabulous place for travellers like myself to bum around in! Peter The Great was.. well.. Great but his kids and heirs were basically spoiled little brats that kind of deserved to be wiped out... funny thing is that the russians dont really talk much about how they dragged the royal family into the basement and shot them all dead. In fact all the royal remains that could be found have been dug up and reburied with the rest of the Czars. I think the madness and brutality of the soviet era is a time many are trying to make up for ... and then forget.

The Hermitage was amazing. 5 seperate palaces and museums that have been joined together and opened gto the public. It is one of the those museums you can spend months in and still not see everything. You have the restored palatial dining and ball rooms but you also have millions of art pieces. We saw Kandinsky, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Gaugin and other painters. We also saw Rodin sculptures by the truckload. I have come to the conclusion that everyone of Rodins sculpture should be called ~Young People Getting It On Number 34 etc etc ~. His manager probably decided to rename the porn Cupid and Psyche and all the others. Dont get me wrong, they are fabulous art pieces but you have to start wondering about a guy that has sooooo many snog sculptures! Also.. Matisse is rubbish... yes.. rubbish. I just dont understand why everyone is so fascinated by his baby drawings! Finally.. if i see one more Madonna with Jesus painting there is going to be trouble. Medieval artists really need to pick a new bloody theme! hehe Had a giggle when we saw many of the paintings had ~acquired in 1947~ written beneath them... the germans must be mightily pissed about this.

We went out to Peterhof.. which is basically Peters summer palace and gardens. It looks so much like Verseille (i am pretty sure i have butchered that spelling) it is uncanny. But then again the Czars of russia really did like the french back then. The Gardens are magnificent but not as extensive as Verseille. The best feature was the moated house Peter had built for his daughter. It made me think she must have been a right strumpet if she had to be moated! Took a hydrofoil back across the water to the City.. squeeeeed in excitement when we stopped being a boat and lifted up onto the blades in the water.. all very flash.

We had dinner in a cool daddio Jazz Club called the Chateau but we also went to the ballet to see Swan Lake,.... now.. answer me this. In Swan Lake the swan princess takes one for the team and dies, yes? Well... in this version THE DUCK DIDNT DIE! It all ends happily with the swan~chick heading off with the prince! What a rip off! I did enjoy the part when the guy who looked like Darth Vader did a vulcan nerve pinch on the prince! Wrestlemania haas nothing on that! But the duck didnt die... not even a little. I assume they wanted a happu ending for the kiddies or they havent heard about bird flu yet.

Odd thing that happened. Went into a Subway sandwich place to get lunch and met a guy that new me from Mousetrap theatre over 10 years ago! His name is Keith and he was on holiday in St Petersburg. How the hell he recognised me after 10 years i have no idea! He also knew Girlclumsy from a show she did at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre 8 years ago. The world is a really really small place.

So thats the end of russia. It has been a strange time in a strange land. Different enough yet close enough to our culture to make you double~take at something every ten minutes. If you get the chance come to Russia. It is a fascinating and infuruating place. The soviet ugliness is being pealed back and a beautful, but non~smiling, country is waiting to be seen!

Onwards to the Baltics!


Anonymous said...

Meeep... I grew up in that crazy city, haven't seen it for years. Love the hydrofoils too, they are awesome. :) And the Hermitage rocks, I was lucky to do an art history course there for 4 years... every week, instead of staring at projector slides, the teacher dragged us around the museum, and pointed at paintings. There is only so much Rodin one can look at! - Daria

Anonymous said...

a tangent on your 10 year st. p. reunion....

i was walking though the myer center yesterday and a guy runs up behind me. i turn to see that's someone i've never seen before. he says, "man, i just had to say... loved your videos."

and then off he dashed to get a bus...

the fiend
maybe he thought i was rob zombie...

Anonymous said...

World travel = good

Malcolm Green

A viral green shade of envy.

TLime said...

Hullo from Dublin.

I agree whole heartedly with the millions of madonnas....I got lost in the Hermitage.... every painting can start to look the same after a while.

Interesting you saw the same Swan Lake I did when in St P...and yes interesting interpretation. The Big T would be rolling in his grave.

St P was made interesting by having our visitation of pretty things impeded by some old empress being reburied....she must have been a big'un....she had two hearses.