Escaping back to the free world!
25.02.2014 - 26.02.2014 0 °C
So no more Lidmila! We have paid her handsomely in US currency and given her an aussie icon present (she cried) and she gifted us with a frig magnet (we cried) and that was it! Now we are on our own!! Having discovered that we needed to take three trains all around the city just to go 2 km dowm=n a straight line??!! We opted instead to take the bus- straight down Nevsky Prospekt to the Hermitage. And. Mind Boggling! Truly amazing place. If you stood and looked at each exhibit for 1 min it would take 8 years to see everything. We had a bit less than that so we split up and took off - everything from the great masters - Rembrandt's, Picasso's, Matisse from every era in every country all housed in what was a huge and fabulous palace. Some rooms were so fabulous they were better then the exhibits. It went on and on and it was so easy to get lost!! But we spent our day there and feel that it was a fitting finish to the USSR.
Our pre booked taxi turned up and we drove to the airport through grey muddy depressing looking rows and rows and rows of apartments. The airport is like a beaten up countrified old airport - very communist still. X-rayed on the way in through the front doors and then after a meal of "Nearty pancakes" and Rabbit Pasta" we went through the first passport control, then to the bag check in where we were told we were not allowed to take lipsticks on the plane (they didn't seem to care about Mel's bottle of water) and then we went through serious passport control and finally we got x-rayed and searched again. Finally left to sit in a strange room for an hour before our plane came
Getting off in stockholm and walking through the clean polished shiny airport - where everything looks like it came from ikea - it brought back quite suddenly how different russia was from the west. Clean, new toilets, (Manda is thrilled as we can now flush the toilet paper down the toilet!) everything modern, everything shiny, glass everywhere - it was great.
A bus trip into town and we are at the funkiest hotel! Lifts are all glass and have an instrument on the roof and the type of music playing is the same - eg Saxophone - jazz, guitar - rock. The place has vanilla pumping through the air vents, a burger is $30 (welcome to scandinavia) the bathroom doors and walls are all glass (amanda and I know far more about each other now than we needed to!)
We had the best breakfast ever - feel we have peaked today! We then walked through the heart of stockholm to an island where we found the VASA museum. A ship from the 1600's raised almost completely intact (98%) and a really great museum complete with dead bodies (or their skeletons) artefacts and weapons from the ship and a truly impressive ship itself.
We then found another graveyard (perhaps this blog should be the Chandelier, Palace and Graveyard tour) one can tell a lot about a country by their graveyards. This was cold stark, neat and plain. A bit like Stockholm.
We then ramped up the level of excitement and hit the ABBA museum. All I will say is that they made a huge number of records, won a huge number of Gold Records, Made some incredibly tacky (and home made looking out fits and..... we still know the words......
We caught a tram home - sadly the conductor couldn't sell us a ticket as he had run out of paper to print his tickets!
We will see if we can find dinner that wont bankrupt us and then tomorrow we will walk around the old medieval town and possibly pop into another palace!
Tomorrow night we go overnight in the sleeper train to the white world of mid Sweden and the Ice Hotel............
Until then Cheers