26-28th Feb -
Train to berlin was pretty uneventful, I lay awake for an hour or so until a very drunk german man came in and gave me half a pint of port in a paper coffee cup, which sent me to sleep very quickly.
I spent the morning and early afternoon walking around berlin, checking out some sights. berlin seems like quite a boring capital city compared to most i have been to in the past, with few impressive buildings and not a very lively atmosphere. I then boarded a 36hour train to St.petersburg, sharing cabin with 2 middle-aged russian men who did not speak a word of english.
As i pass through poland and belarus, and my destination draws nearer, the world outside the train grows steadily colder, harsher and more miserable: abandoned, broken-down buildings litter the deserted industrial wasteland. I am not surprised that everyone i see outside the train looks very grumpy indeed. the women all wear shawls, headscarves and have beards and the men wear leather, have red faces and have moustaches, not a smile in sight.
when the train stopped-over in minsk, a drunk young man began to piss up against the train. seeing this, a soldier ran over shouting and hit him in the face with his rifle but, knocking him to the ground. i was shocked at the ammount of blood coming from his (probably broken) nose. this is just a small sign of the heavy military presence that lingers everywhere here.
29th Feb - 2nd March
I arrived in St. Petersburg at around 6.30am and headed off to find the hostel in which ed and oli were staying. I found it without much difficulty and, after a brief check-in with a witch-like receptionist, climbed the hostel staris to find ed and oli sat in the kitchen eating a breakfast of noodles (ed) and what looked, smelled and tasted like dog food ravioli (oli) (a local favourite!)
we spent the next 2 days exploring ther city and taking-in some magnificent tzarist architecture: expansive boulevards run in grid formation across the city. golden domes, ornate stone carving and pillars are everywhere and canals weave their frozen-over way through the center and run into the large harbour.
on the evening of the 1st day, we made a 'lenin snowman' in one of the parks, under the very dissaproving eye of a haglike russian woman.
the people in the adjacent room to us at 'hostel metro tour' were a group of uni students taking part in a local comedy festival, which they ended-up winning! so we went to their room that evening and got rather drunk, until the receptionist came up and said that if we didnt keep the noise down she would call the police. safe to say we kept the noise down.
I have been taking a lot of photos, but the internet cafe we are at now charges per-upload so i will put them up on photobucket at a later date.
on our final day in st. patersburg, we went to the 'Cafe Iddiot', a favourite hangout of the great fyodor dostoevsky. sitting on very comfy armchairs, surrounded by original artwork and sipping cocktails (a tomato/egg yolk/vodka one for oli and a 'crime and punnishment' cocktail each for me and ed) we felt truely majestic. the atmosphere was a very cool and intelectual one and we tried writing some poetry. with not much luck.