June 2:  St. Petersburg

Unlike my first tour, when "It's My Life" served as both a day song and a wakeup song, we have a separate wakeup song this time:  "Chop Suey!" by System of a Down.  Since I never actually fell asleep on the coach, it became the signal for me to put my shoes on.

At some point today Nalarta was awarded the Boob Shirt on account of it was her birthday.

Big day of sightseeing...

St. Isaac's Cathedral.  It took 400,000 people to build it and most of them died doing so.

Nicolas I statue in St. Isaac's Square.

Bronze Horseman (Peter the Great).

Bronze Horseman (Peter the Great).

The Hermitage.

The Kunstkamera, or museum of curiosities.  It's full of stuff like deformed babies.  I was curious to see if they had a baby with two butts, but I didn't have a chance to go in.

Most of the buildings in St. Petersburg (such as museums and the folklore theatre) are former palaces.

Next we visited the Peter and Paul Fortress.  Therein is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where famous people are buried.  Tombs of famous people are cool.

Tombs of Catherine II and Peter the Great.

Tombs of the Romanovs.

Anna gave us plenty of historical background on the places we were visiting, but most of her stories ended with someone dying.  Even her story about the zoo was tragic:  the elephants were freezing so the zoo fed them vodka to keep warm, and soon the elephants started demanding it, and after two years they died.

After a forced visit to the the Faberge egg store (the usual Contiki deal) we had some free time for lunch, which was at KFC, and a bit of sightseeing...

The impressive Kazan Cathedral.

Church of the Bleeding Savior.  Better photos coming tomorrow.

Biagio's unfamiliar name prompted some easier-to-remember alternatives:  Bingo, Julio, Bellagio, Fellatio, Fabio, Bluto and Biatch.

We had a guided tour of the above-depicted Hermitage.  Another Bloody Palace.

Dinner at the hotel included a tomatoey soup that seemed to contain hot dogs and other leftovers from this morning's breakfast.  The entree was chicken and spaghetti.

At night we went to the ballet and saw Giselle.  It was awesome!  I couldn't believe it but the second act was even more exciting than the first!  I hoped it would never end!  ("I loved it.  It was much better than Cats.  I'm going to see it again and again.")  The reason for the ballet is it was included in a package and we couldn't do the other stuff in Russia without it.  We're dealing with the Family and this is how they operate.

No photos allowed during the performance.  I hope someone else was watching the costumes, because I couldn't take my eyes off the passion!

We learned that John (my roommate for the entire time in Russia, Belarus and Poland) turned his ankle at bowling last night, and had to go to an American hospital today to get a cast/splint and crutches.

After ballet we hung out by the pool tables at the hotel.  I had 4 Bochkas.  I asked Matt if he planned to play any Bobby Vinton songs for the entry into Poland, and he had no idea who Bobby Vinton was.  And I mentioned my connection to SOAD and that I'd met Shavo at the Pilichos compound.