Friday, September 09, 2005

St Petersburg II

Rush hour in the St Petersburg Metro can be an interesting experience. Fortunately we were travelling in the opposite direction to most of the commuters, so the interesting times factor was somewhat below Chinese Curse level.

Still, when you can't speak a word of the language (except for "goodbye" and "tea with milk", which won't get you far in the metro) and when you have no Roubles, but dire warnings are ringing in your ears of psychotic muggers out to rob you of your last Lithuanian cents if you smile or make eye contact, and when you know neither how to work the tickets nor how to find your station, the journey still affords a certain amount of "interest". Fortunately there were no incidents and we emerged into daylight slightly relieved still to be alive.

After crossing the road (conspicuously, to avoid being run down) we made ourselves inconspicuous once more, and headed for the flat.

Up the stairs, a key was inserted in a huge cell door. It creaked open, revealing the Stygian darkness within. Silently, our Warder motioned us inside. The door slammed, and there was the sound of bolts and chains. As our thoughts drifted back to the KGB museum in Vilnius we realised this was where we were staying.

"Stop! Remove your shoes!" commanded the Warder. We were indeed in the real Russia.

A door opened. Daylight again! "Yes, I'm afraid the power is still off! There are slippers here. Come through to the living room. What about tea?"

Things suddenly looked a lot better. We could see again, for a start.

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