Sep. 15th, 2010

moem: A computer drawing that looks like me. (Default)
[personal profile] moem
So where have I been lately? Well... how about Moscow and St. Petersburg?

Me in Russia

My mother took me on a trip that included both of these splendid cities. They are, as I have learned, very different.
While Moscow is very busy, mostly modern, a bustling centre of government and business, St. Petersburg is cultural, a city full of museums, theatres and palaces.
We got to spend a few days in each of them, first Moscow, then St. Petersburg, and traveled from one to the other by train.

It was a fascinating trip. I couldn't even begin to tell you what I liked best. So here are some highlights:
  • The metro stations in Moscow. Stalin built underground palaces for the benefit of the workers. Too bad, our guide said, that above ground, he built them barracks.
  • The guide herself. Marina is smart, funny and speaks great Dutch.
  • Borsjtsj. Beet soup. Good stuff, and I don't even like beets. Wodka is nice too, but I already knew that.
  • The Moscow cemetary for prominent Moscovians. Everyone has a statue or an engraved picture; everyone is a hero. Many men (hardly any women) are shown with symbols of their profession. Like pilotes' goggles, a newborn baby or a telephone.
  • The churches... painted on the inside from top to bottom. Golden domes. Lots of angels. Splendid Cyrillic lettering.
  • Being there for a few days and learning to read some of the signs.
  • Hearing five stout, short Russian men, who looked like lorry drivers, open their mouths and sing like angels.
  • Releasing six BookCrossing books, in Russian. One of them inside the Kremlin.
  • The old Socialist statues and monuments, pompous and stylized at the same time, trying their best to look glorious and intimidating.
  • A boat trip through the canals and rivers of St. Petersburg.
  • Good weather. Almost all day, almost every day. My coat was much too warm.
  • More palaces than you can shake a stick at. And we went for lunch in one of them.
  • Seeing the lunch menu mentioning a 'Spring Fantasy' salad as a starter, accompanied by a Nevsky Loaf from the palace bakery as well as [so-and-so] spring water from a 150 metre deep well... and realizing that this meant 'We will welcome you with cabbage, water and a small roll of bread'. Highly amusing (and the lunch wasn't bad after all).
  • The Hermitage. It's one of the places you must have been to. But not for too long, as it'll make you dizzy and give you a headache. One can only see so many badly-lit 17th century masterpieces a day. The rooms are competing for attention with the artefacts.

In other words: this trip was a complete trip. If you're interested in the way too many pictures that I took, go here. Don't say I didn't warn you!
travelingmonkey: Travel Europe (europe)
[personal profile] travelingmonkey
Alrighty. Tags have been created and added. If you feel there's a tag missing, let me know, and if I agree, I'll add it. I'm pretty agreeable, and I promise I don't bite, so try me! ~_^ I won't add every single city ever mentioned, as that would just get excessive. But I'm sure there are some bigger cities out there that I'm missing, not being familiar with the countries, or other topics that I haven't thought of, etc. I'm always open to suggestions!

But for now, here is your tag list:

subject: info, subject: itinerary, subject: photos, subject: questions

accommodations: b&bs, accommodations: camping, accommodations: general/other, accommodations: hostels, accommodations: hotels

concerning: backpacking, concerning: bars/clubbing/live music, concerning: budget/how much money, concerning: cell phones, concerning: culture/communication, concerning: currency, concerning: day-trips, concerning: food/restaurants/pubs, concerning: feasibility, concerning: luggage, concerning: museums, concerning: other, concerning: passes (city/museum), concerning: safety, concerning: shopping, concerning: studying abroad/extended stay, concerning: tefl/tesol, concerning: tour groups, concerning: tourist attractions, concerning: trip planning, concerning: visas & passports, concerning: websites [for booking], concerning: websites [for info], concerning: what is it like in x, concerning: what should i do in x, concerning: where should i go (in x)

transit: buses, transit: cars/driving, transit: flying/flights/airports, transit: general/other, transit: how i get from point a to b, transit: metro/trams, transit: trains/rail passes, transit: within city x

location: abkhazia, location: albania, location: andorra, location: armenia, location: austria, location: austria (salzburg), location: austria (vienna), location: azerbaijan, location: belarus, location: belarus (minsk), location: belgium, location: belgium (antwerpen), location: belgium (brugge/bruges), location: belgium (brussels), location: bosnia & herzegovina, location: bosnia & herzegovina (sarajevo), location: bulgaria, location: bulgaria (sofia), location: croatia, location: croatia (zagreb), location: cyprus, location: cyprus (nicosia), location: czech republic, location: czech republic (prague), location: denmark, location: denmark (copenhagen), location: england, location: england (london), location: england (manchester), location: estonia, location: estonia (tallinn), location: finland, location: finland (helsinki), location: france, location: france (marseilles), location: france (paris), location: georgia, location: germany, location: germany (bavaria), location: germany (berlin), location: germany (frankfurt), location: germany (hamburg), location: germany (köln/cologne), location: germany (munich), location: germany (nürnberg/nuremberg), location: gibraltar, location: greece, location: greece (athens), location: greece (greek isles), location: hungary, location: hungary (budapest), location: iceland, location: iceland (reykjavik), location: ireland, location: ireland (dublin), location: isle of man, location: italy, location: italy (cinque terre), location: italy (firenze/florence), location: italy (milan), location: italy (napoli/naples), location: italy (rome), location: italy (tuscany), location: italy (venezia/venice), location: jersey, location: kazakhstan, location: kosovo, location: latvia, location: latvia (riga), location: liechtenstein, location: lithuania, location: lithuania (vilnius), location: luxembourg, location: macedonia, location: malta, location: moldova, location: monaco, location: montenegro, location: netherlands, location: netherlands (amsterdam), location: netherlands (den haag/the hague), location: netherlands (groningen), location: netherlands (rotterdam), location: northern cyprus, location: northern ireland, location: northern ireland (belfast), location: norway, location: norway (bergen), location: norway (oslo), location: poland, location: poland (krakow), location: poland (warsaw), location: portugal, location: portugal (lisbon), location: romania, location: romania (bucharest), location: russia, location: russia (moscow), location: russia (saint petersburg), location: san marino, location: scotland, location: scotland (edinburgh), location: serbia, location: serbia (belgrade), location: slovakia, location: slovakia (bratislava), location: slovenia, location: slovenia (ljubljana), location: south ossetia, location: spain, location: spain (barcelona), location: spain (madrid), location: spain (sevilla), location: sweden, location: sweden (stockholm), location: switzerland, location: switzerland (bern), location: switzerland (geneva), location: switzerland (zurich), location: turkey, location: turkey (ankara), location: turkey (istanbul), location: ukraine, location: ukraine (kiev), location: united kingdom, location: vatican city, location: wales, location: wales (cardiff)

It seems like a lot, but it's pretty straight-forward. You choose the subject of your post (question, info, itinerary, or photos), then you choose one/multiple items that it concerns (any combination of selections from the "accommodations," "transit," and "concerning" groups), and you pick the location(s) you're going. Don't worry, if you get confused/forget, I'll help and/or add them myself. But organized tags are a wonderful way of keeping information sorted an in easy to access manner; everyone who comes around after your post will be happy they can find that info easily! ^^

Regarding the rules
>> Keep posts on topic. This includes not asking questions of a personal nature that will only apply to you.
The point here, is that this comm isn't for classifieds, or a dating service, etc. You are welcome, and encouraged, to ask questions like "where's a good place to meet people (possibly people who speak X language/are from X country as well) and hang out," "I'm moving to X city/country, can you tell me where I should look to find a place to live/a roommate/a place to buy XYZ/etc," and so forth. Those things will help anyone who should be in that area as well. But things like "I'm bored, does anyone want to get together in city X tonight?!," or "I'm moving to city X, are any of you living there and need roommates??" etc, will not be allowed. I'm sure you can understand why the differences between those are important.
<< Please try your best not to ask broad questions. People cannot tell you what you want to see and do. Do your own research first, then come and ask specifics.
The point of this one, is as it says; people cannot tell you what things you should do. Everyone is different and has different interests. I hate Brussels, and I will tell you to avoid it like the plague. But there are people out there who think it's awesome. See why this is important? You need to do your own research. Find out what there is to see & do in the place(s) you're going, and see what sounds interesting to you. Then, come and ask people if they've been to those places, and what they thought of them, what they were like, if there's anywhere else they'd recommend, etc. If you're going to ask broader questions, at least include asking people why they would/wouldn't recommend something, because maybe their reason is the opposite of you, and you'd want to see it/not for the very same reason they feel the opposite way! I might tell you "I loved Budapest because there was so overwhelmingly much to do there, so many museums, places to go, things to see!," while you are looking for a vacation of leisure and shopping, or partying, etc. Ya know? So try to figure out some stuff first, before coming to seek out more detailed info, and make sure you include your interests, so people can give better advice. ^^

I think that's about it... any questions/comments/suggestions, please let me know! ^_^