Monday, February 01, 2010

Ballet Bollywood

Hi I'm back, drifting from cafe to cabaret with Ben's borrowed laptop again...

It's much warmer now than when we arrived, hovering right around freezing right now, with flurries coming down, as seen from this coffee shop window. We have a bit of scheduled downtime today, hanging out and doing the internet thing. Tomorrow we'll probably go back to the Hermitage -- it's closed today -- and we might take a trip outside the city one day this week.

We got in some hardcore sightseeing the past few days. Saturday we did several walking tours we found in a local guidebook (as supplemented by our personal guide Ben), visiting the church of the Spilled Blood -- probably the most beautiful building I have ever been in -- and the Cathedral of St Isaac, which has a tower and observation deck at the top. Dinner that night was Mexican (!), followed by a couple of pints of Guinness at "Mollie's Irish Bar" (!!) .

Last night was the ballet. We saw "La Balyetiere" (or something like that), a romantic tragedy set in India. Pretty awesome, especially at the end when we got kicked out while taking pictures (really we got kicked out because they were closing, but I think the pictures were what truly riled the old lady usherette). Russian dinner beforehand, and we followed the show with absinthe and vodka at Ben's apartment.

Flat Isabel: I've been taking pictures everywhere we go, mostly with this little paper cutout in the scene, given us by a grade-school teacher friend. Apparently, kids make these little "Flat Stanley" (or in our case "Flat Isabel") dolls for some geography learning experience, and travelers photograph them in various places around the world for the kids. Isabel has been on all our sightseeing excursions, and she's totally given my picture-taking a narrative structure...

Comes The Revolution: The two buildings we saw saturday had a lot in common: both were monumental, like un-usably large (the Church of the Spilled Blood has never been used as a church), both were built approximately at the end of the nineteenth century, and both seemed to be made to exalt Imperial hubris, at the expense of the blood of the people -- the Church of the Spilled Blood was built in commemoration of / answer to the assassination of a previous emperor, like a slap in the face to those who did it.