Dateline: St. Petersburg, Day 3 – The 16 Kilometer Adventure

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
12 June 2009

I’ve been traveling for just about 10 days now; and it sort of feels like it. I’ve been nursing a couple of blisters, and I can’t seem to get enough sleep. I’ve also been fighting off some sort of cold for the last few days. Although I think yesterday was the turning to point to winning the war on terror my cold.

Last night, I did some investigating and plotted out what I wanted to do for these last couple of days. I made a list of the top three museums I wanted to visit:

  1. Popov Communications Museum
  2. Museum of Zoology
  3. Museum of Railway Technology

After having missed the Cosmonauts Museum, I made it my first priority to find the Communications Museum. I headed north and to the location where I thought the museum should be.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

However, I couldn’t find it. I circled the block, thinking maybe the location on the map wasn’t right, but still couldn’t find it. I pulled on the door for what I though was museum, but it was locked.

While still searching for the museum, I came across the post office. Figuring this would be as good a time as any, I decided to post my cards. This was an adventure in and of itself. I surveyed the scene (I wish I could show you a picture, but they don’t allow photography and there was a security guard on duty who most likely would have hassled me). Standing before me were 30-some windows, most of them closed, a few of them open. There was different writing above many of them, corresponding, I presume, to different postal functions.

I do the sensible thing and walk up to the window with the shortest line. I show the lady behind the counter my three postcards and try my best to indicate that I need some stamps. She points across the room, and I (like a well trained monkey at this point) mimic her gesture, making sure I understand where she’s pointing.

So I walk across the rather large room to the other side and repeat the aforementioned conversation, the gentleman looks at my cards and then points me back across the room. It’s takes a moment to process this before I realize I’m stuck in what appears to be an infinite loop.

I then had a flashback to about nine years ago when I used to spend quite a few Sunday mornings hanging out in the YMM1 office at University Presbyterian Church:
One morning, we decided to play a little prank on our small group leader, Brandon Lewis, who also happened to be an intern. The layout of the room was such that the office space ran along the outside perimeter with a table and a bank of computers in the middle.

Brandon happened to have a cordless phone at his desk (the only person in the entire YMM office with one, I believe), which I took and hid above the lowered ceiling tiles in the middle of the room.

My thinking went that Brandon would hear his phone ringing and think it was on the other side of the room. He would walk over there and listen for it again, only to hear it coming from the other side of the room. He eventually figured out the phone was in the middle of the room.

Perhaps God was attempting to humor me. In the middle of the large room is an open topped shop. I walk in, show the lady my cards, and get my stamps.

I walked out of the post office and decided to give finding this museum one last shot. There’s an upscale hotel near by and I ask the security guard if he speaks English, he doesn’t but another guy does. I show him the address I have for museum, and he confirmed what the map already told me. So I go back around and scrutinized the doors one last time.

This time, I see the note:

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

The note appears to convey information about the museum being closed for Russia Day on 11 June and 12 June.

At least I know where the museum is.

I decide that I should still go to at least one museum, so I head north again, across the Bol’shaya Neva river, to what I think is the Museum of Zoology, but is actually the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.

The line to get in is pretty long, stretching to the end of the block, and is made up of an unusually younger crowd. I figure that I’m here and might as well go in, so I jump in line.

Most of the museum was pretty bland with exhibits that I thought were pretty outdated. I was struggling to find why so many people wanted to get in. Then I found it, the First Natural Science Collections of the Kunstkamera. This room isn’t even on the same playing field as Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

After the museum, I strolled by the water front before making a dash to the Peter and Paul Fortress.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

Once I got to the fortress, I noticed a helicopter had landed. Rather curious as to what this bird was doing next to the fortress, I naturally went to investigate.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

As it turned out, Baltic Airlines was offering 15 minutes aerial tours of St. Petersburg by helicopter, a twin turbine Mil Mi-8 to be exact. For a mere 2000 rubles2, I too could enjoy the sights that millions of others had enjoyed before me, but in the air! How could resist? Honestly, it was a really tempting offer. For a helicopter ride, $65 wasn’t a lot of money (all things considered). However, in the end I decided not to do it. I didn’t really think seeing St. Petersburg by air would be that cool and it looked like all the window seats were taken. Besides, if I’m going to pay money, I at least want to be able to fly the thing.

I did decided to wait around for the helicopter to take off; and let me tell you something, I was nearly knocked off my feet! That thing creates one heck of a downwash.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

I wandered about fortress before exiting on the north side. I passed by the Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps as it was closing before doing a loop around the Zoo (on the outside, not the inside).

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

I had been walking for about eight hours at this point and my feet were about ready to kill me. My plan was to catch the metro at Gorkovskaya, however it turns out (after later research) that the station was closed.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia

I ended up walking another 2 kilometers to the Sportivnaya metro station, and my feet did up killing me. I did manage to get home though, having romped over 16 kilometers through St. Petersburg today.

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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


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St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia


  1. Youth Mission and Ministry 

  2. $65 dollars 

Dateline: Moscow, Day 5

Moscow, Russian Federation
7 June 2009

Today was a bit of a down day. I made a list a of the last few places that I wanted to visit. It basically boiled down to the Central Armed Forces Museum and the Cosmonaut Museum. There where some other things that I could have done, but Moscow has begun to wear on me.

Since the Central Armed Forces Museum is closed on on Monday and Tuesday and the Cosmonauts Museum is only closed on Tuesdays1, I decided to go to the Central Armed Forces Museum today.

With the Brits (Kate, Lizzy, Tom, Gary, and Ryan) off on their Trans-Siberian adventure and Eric and Casper already gone for the day, I ventured off by myself. Heading north, I caught the metro. I was trying to be cool and minimize walking, so I took the green line to the brown line and attempted to get off at Dostoevkaja. However, the station was still under construction, so I ended up getting dropped off at Prospekt Mira; this ended up being about the same travel distance to the museum as if I had just walked to from the hostel. Oh well.

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Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

The museum itself was rather awesome, however it looked like it was in desperate need of funding. Several of the attractions inside were incomplete and the outside looked very poorly taken care of, a shame considering the amount of history present. The museum also had a small but impressive (to me) collection of paintings. Note: I’ll have photos of the museum up later, I have close to 100 pictures and want to get some more critical stuff posted first.

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Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

I walked back to the hostel in under 30 minutes, seeing yet another part of the city new to me. On the way back, I stopped briefly in a park. There was party of some sorts going on, perhaps for a wedding. Everyone was dressed nicely and drinking vodka. Drunk Russian sounds almost exactly the same as drunk English.

For tonight, we decided to hit the town. There’s a bar and grill called Papa’s Place that also has a basement club. Casper and I went down there with Max, Jared, Evan, and Ryan, who are all super awesome engineering students who graduated from CU Boulder! They’re flying from Denver to Rwanda to work on a water sanitation project, and taking an extended layover to attempt Mt. Elbrus (they were unable to successfully summit due to weather) and visit Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The club was pretty empty, at least according to Casper. We had a couple of beers and then Max joined us (he had to finish up laundry and then biked down on his rental). We ended up just shooting the shit. Around 5 am, we (Casper, and probably me) were almost scammed by some Russians. The club had closed, so they booted us upstairs to the bar and grill (which is open 24/7)2. I found Casper already upstairs; arm wrestling with some Russian dude.

Evan and Ryan had already left, and Max and Jared and I wanted to leave. Casper wanted to stay though, as he was talking with some cute Russian girls. I agreed to stay with Casper, since I didn’t want him staying by himself.

Not even five minutes later, we’re siting at a table with black-label alcohol being shoved in our direction. I politely decline. Casper does not. I strongly urge Casper that it’s time to go

Only a few minutes later, Max and Jared come back. They were outside chatting with some other Russian girls. They somehow figure out we were getting scammed and had come back to save our asses…literally. This is how you can find yourself out 10000 roubles. So I owe them one.

Max throws away the empty beer bottle he had in his back pocket and we head back to the hostel. It’s almost seven in the morning by time I crawl into bed. Lesson learned…and not the hard way.


  1. which I later found out is not true, it’s closed on Monday and Tuesday as well 

  2. Side note: same place that Ryan got lost at 

Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.

Russia

  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?


  1. http://www.cmaf.ru/eng/index_eng.htm 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW&C#Turkey 

  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'”