Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012 St. Petersburg, Russia

July 18, 2012             St. Petersburg, Russia

The rest of the Gribens group began their journey five days ago in Moscow.  They took the train to St Petersburg yesterday morning and spent the afternoon on a bus touring around.

This morning, we all met up for a group tour of the Peterhof Palace and Gardens.

 It brought us right back to Vilnius…or at least our Vilnius guide.  Now we are really getting cultural difference, at least when it comes to tour guides.

As one of our tour group members said very quickly in our tour of Peterhof, “It’s not only a tour, it’s a workout too.”  Yep.  23 of us were huffing and puffing to keep up with our guide.  She, too, is quite direct in her communication. J  

Did you pre-order?
I don’t know.
That’s too bad.
(I was able to get Shayna her veggie meal.  No luck with Marci).

First impression of St. Petersburg is not great.  Our very direct tour guide is giving us all the dirt on the city… like calling out “mistake”  “mistake” to every newlywed she sees coming out of churches, then quoting to us the 90% divorce rate in Russia.  Then she tells us about the black market economy, then instructs us how to evade rules for not taking pictures at the palace, to revealing the secret location of the man controlling the sprinkler system who gets all the kids wet in the gardens. 

She told us an old Russian proverb: when you do something nice for someone, only something bad will happen to you.

Then she told us that teachers make $130 a month….that she did it for a few months…then quit to take the black market job she has now as our tour guide.  Oy.

When one of the kids didn’t like one of the courses at our group lunch,

 the guide told her “This is a group lunch. You have no choice.  Tomorrow is a free day. You can choose your food then.  Now, eat this.”

She was kind enough to bring us to a big tourist souvenir center,

telling us to use the toilets since the ones at Peterhof Palace are crowded and smell really bad.  (Good suggestion but are you getting the point?)

By 3:30, we were back at the hotel.  I took a 30 minute nap that ran over about an hour and an half. 

One GREAT part of the trip is that we have 9 kids here (age 11-17) so Rebecca and Shayna are having some peer time, hanging out with other kids, playing cards, watching shows on the iPad… 

In fact, the kids had dinner together at the hotel early so that the parents could eat later on our own.

Obligatory Greek Salad purchase..

The Food Emporium

For Lezak, eat your heart out..

For non-diabetics to eat their hearts out..


Double ditto

Tomorrow…the b’not mitzvah.

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