with no problems
My day started with change of plans... again! I will fly to Volgograd on May 10 instead of going back to Moscow and then to Smolensk by train. It willl be easier to work my way back to Moscow from Volgograd for May 22 without double tracking that way.
The train from St-Petersburg to Smolensk initially looked simple enough... until you see the detailed map of the route. The track goes through Bellarussia for about 20-30 Km => I would need a transit visa for Bellarussia (which I could get) and a multi-entry visa for Russia (which I did not get!).
I asked the Hostel for a travel agency that would have English speaking staff to make sure that the transaction was smooth and easy... But of course, this is Russia. There were no English speaking staff. Much to my surprise, I was able to write a note (without the hepl of my books) and got what I wanted in short order. OK Jen, you can hate me now (but I still love you Snooky Wompums of Love). This gave me a bit more confidence for when I go to the deep south... hopefully its' not a false sense of confindence.
No Pick-Pockets today = Yeah! Spent the day at the Russian National Museum. I was very impressed by their Impressionists (including Levitan) and "Group of Seven" style stuff. I wonder who came first? The Russian claim that Levitan developed his impressionist style completely independantly from other Euaropean painters... he also happened to develop it during the same time period. They also had exhibits on Folk Art, Icons and religious painting, and stuff suitable for a palace = boring portraits of the rulers that confirm they are important because the paintings were done by famous artists.
My goal for tomorrow is to make it out to the booney's in the East where the remianing trenchwork from the seige of Lennigrad are located. I will probably have to use the private bus system for the first time... I love transit! NOT. May 8 will be spent at the Hermitage (closed Monday's). May 9 = Biggest Party in Russia = Defeat of the Facist Hitlerites! Party on Communist Brother Dude! May 10 Volgograd, probably the most important city on my trip.... the place the world changed!!!
Happiness and Joy
Let the Doom and Gloom Tour Continue!