These chaps were playing at the ferry terminal at 8 am when we arrived, and later at 6pm when we returned to sail home. I love how the drummer, presumably working all that time, still had the energy to give me a little smize.
I'm not going to say much at all about our quick jaunt to St. Petersburg. I really can't.
Ang and I managed to time our arrival with the shittiest weather of the summer. The rain was coming in sideways, from below and from above and the fierce wind blew water everywhere. It was freezing. Ang lost her umbrella. The tour bus smelled like sebum (my worst nightmare). It was freezing. I didn't dare take out my camera lest it become instantly soaked, so the few photos above are all I have to show for two 13-hour ferries, a 3-hour bus ride that stunk of unwashed scalp, and a dreary half-hour plod through waterlogged streets with a long skirt that soaked up every drop from the ground and weighed a tonne before we got to the dry safety of a café.
I have to give Russia another chance on a dry day. I can't let the incumbent weather taint my experience. Because it sucked in the pissing monsoon rain. When Ban and I go back with Elaina (come on!) I'm sure I'll like it more.
I will say this: the Russian people we encountered were very eager to help us out, and made the stereotype of "the taciturn Soviet" utter rubbish. The lovely lad in the café who struggled with our order, the tour guide Svetlana whose nervous laugh/talk made us chuckle ("Here is where Rasputin was murdered..HAHAHAHA mmyes!"), and basically everyone (except the laser-eyed ice-witch in Immigration who was utterly terrifying) was friendly and open and willing to try to make two Western girls' lives easier by attempting English and not laughing in our face at our pronunciation of spassiba.
We walked Gogol's famous Nevsky Prospekt (you see the sign above, in Russian on the blue building), saw where Pushkin hung out, where Rasputin was poisoned, shot, shot again, clubbed, clubbed more, then thrown to die in the frozen river. We saw the Romanov's many palaces, and the famous Church on Spilled Blood- the only Russian revival building in St. Petersburg. (The city looks very European, apart from the Cyrillic writing everywhere.)
The ferry on the way home lurched through the waters and for two days afterwards we both felt a bit sea-leggy. The ship itself was a surreal experience. Ang was sleepy, so I wandered the decks alone, a pocket full of Finnish green beans which I snacked on while observing the people around me gambling, drinking, watching the on-board entertainment, and buying liquor. I sat quietly and watched the sea rise and fall, until it lulled me enough to get some sleep.