Walking in front of Hermitage the previous day and listening to Marcella talk about it made me realize we absolutely had to go there. The hermitage is similar to the Louvre in its size. Several palaces together, can offer up to two full days of visit – the lady at the information desk told me that there are 24 kilometers to walk if one wants to visit the entire thing.
The section that greatest impression on were certainly the various rooms of the palace dedicated to impress the guess. The Hermitage was the seat of power of the Tsar since the tsar Peter the first. The palace has impressive stairs and ball rooms and corridors full of portraits. The tsar had several rooms for ceremonies and taking decisions and in one of them, when standing in front of the majestic throne you could feel the power of this place and the weight of the decisions taken in this room that shaped Russia. We only explored the sections with themes that interested us considering the little time we had to see it all.
The late afternoon was spent relaxing under the sun in a big park while drinking a pilsner. Having accumulated so many kilometers allowed us to relax our legs.
My friend Aleks studied abroad in Germany for a semester and he made a Russian friend. She wanted to go eat with Aleks and I was invited. So we met at the rendezvous point outside the metro at the center of the city at 7h00. She came with her boyfriend, who was very nice and pleasant. They both had good English and we proceeded to take a beer in an Irish Bar and we order some fish and chips. The friend of Aleks decided to pay the food for all of us. That was an extremely nice thing to do, and I was really impressed me as she had no reason to do so except being genuinely nice. The four of us got along very well and they invited us to the party of their friend in the suburb of the city. We thought, why not?! Real Russian experience!
So after around 30 minutes of metro we got out in her neighborhood and it was a real shock. The huge buildings, soviet style, built cheaply to fit as much people as humanly possible were everywhere. This hard nothing to do with the center of the city; this was another face of Russia – the one tourists don’t get to see. We bought them some alcohol at the liquor store to make up for the dinner they paid for us and made our way to the party.
In the middle of the giant buildings was a small neighborhood of higher quality house with private yards and parking. The contrast was shocking; the friend in question lived in one of these nice apartments that stood out. We listened to some music, drank and had a lot of fun and the rest of the information is not appropriated for this PG 13 blog.
We ended up sleeping at Alek’s friend apartment since the metro closed at 1h30. It was a great experience and I am really happy I finally had a night of drinking with a Russian called Ivan.
Truly a glorious cultural experience.