13.06.2011 - 13.06.2011 14 °C
Nice leisurely start today. Its only Kate and myself left of my small touring group and we wanted to see some of the cathedrals here in St Pb and also take in the Political Science Museum of Russia.
The cold change moved in yesterday evening and so we are quite rugged up today and feeling the chill! (The temp has dropped from probably 29 yesterday to about 15 today-- its incredible that the temp can fluctuate that much between two days!!) We decided to take in the political history museum first so headed back over the Neva towards the Peter and Paul Fortress.
The museum is housed in a famous ballerina's old mansion that was once the offices of Lenin and the early Bolshevik party! The museum is potentially the strangest one i've ever entered. For starters, some parts are under renovation which makes the tour route extremely disjointed! So we arrived at the museum and bought our tickets and were given a tour map and v confusing directions of how to navigate (wasn't helped by the fact we couldn't understand the Russian/ broken english instructions we were receiving).. So we started to walk thru the rabbit warren that was this museum.
Although not very clear the museum takes you through the political changes of Russia since the end of the 19th century.. It should (and i was really hoping) have been the most interesting museum I'd ever been to.. but unfortunately it didn't live up to expectations.
It spent some time showing us where Lenin's offices were in St Pb and gave us a basic over view of the Feb and Oct Revolutions.. It then skipped forward until Stalin's time, however the tour map route took you from the Oct Rev'n to a special exhibition on the death penalty and then to Krushchev and Breshnev era and then finally back to Stalin.. Totally confusing (and even more so because very little of the exhibitions were in English).
Needless to say the museum gave both Kate and I a really good giggle. Firstly, it was funny because it was so poorly organised (chronologically) and secondly because of the quantity of staff! Kate and I (and probably only 3 other tourists) were the only paying customers in the museum.. From a staffing point of view there was a little lady sitting (normally asleep or reading a trashy novel) in every room (to make sure we didn't steal any treasures from the museum-- by the way, this is the norm as this has been the situation in every museum we've been in since starting the trip) there was also a security guard (who was reading a book), an information desk lady (doing nothing because there wasn't anyone to help), a lady selling tickets into the museum and a lady checking tickets.. All in all, Kate and I estimate that the ratio of staff to tourists was probably something like 10:1.. Just amazing! As you can see the collective thinking is still alive and well in non-communist Russia!!
After deciding we had, had enough of the confusion of the museum we took off for St Isaacs Cathedral. St Isaacs is one of the largest in St Pb and is also one of the best because it has a huge cupola (similar looking to the white house in US actually) that you can climb to view the city. The church itself is gorgeous inside. Frescos cover every wall and the whole roof.. Incredible.. The view from cupola is awesome (chilly but awesome!)
By this stage the rain had just started to drizzle so we decided to head for shelter and find some dinner.. Borscht of course!