Update 3

Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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Hello everyone! Well, this past week hasn't exactly been eventful, so
forgive me if this is a considerably shorter email. Friday, June 16, a
group of us headed to Yusopov Palace. The Yusopovs were the richest
and most respected family in pre-revolutionary Russia. The palace was
very much like all the other palaces we had visited up until that
point, so I'm glad I didn't pay the $6 to take pictures inside. The
only upside to that trip, other than seeing more fancy stuff, was that
this is the palace where Rasputin was murdered. Rasputin, for those of
you who do not know, was a "magic man" who aided the last Tsar's
family... if you can call it "aid." Anyway. . .

   Saturday our whole group travelled to the town of Pushkin. The town's
original name was Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar's Village), and I like that
name better, so we'll use it from now on. The town was renamed Pushkin
after the famous Russian writer of that name. While in Tsarskoye Selo,
we visited... you guessed it! Another palace! This one was the
Catherine Palace which was one of the "official" summer residences of
the Russian Tsars. (There are two other "official" summer residences:
Peterhoff (which we visited last week) and the Pavlosk Palace, which
we're not going to be visiting). We did a walk through of the 20 state
rooms which are connected by the "Golden Corridor." During WW2, most
of these rooms were completely demolished, so most of what you see is
reconstruction. There were only two rooms I really liked: the green
dining room and the amber room. The original amber room was worth $142
million and the walls were entirely coated in amber, hence the name.
However, despite the efforts of the Russians to cover the amber walls
with two fake walls during WW2, the Nazi's outsmarted the Russians and
discovered the amber panels. They took the room apart and shipped the
various panals to Europe and they've never been seen again. So this
room is also a reconstruction, but is also composed entirely of amber,
just like the original... very impressive. You're not allowed to take
pics in this room, but I'm not the type to pass an opportunity like
that up. So, I snapped a picture and if you want to see it, go to my
webshots photo album.

The rest of the day we spent roaming the gardens and then Sunday we
all rested. Monday was my 22nd birthday and early in the day I took a
trip to Dom Knigi... this enormous bookstore. However, I got sick
later in the day (due to mine and Tara's side trip to Mollie's Irish Pub)
and spent the majority of my b-day asleep in bed.

Today my Russian literature class took a field trip to the Dostoevsky
memorial museum and apartment. For those of you who know nothing of
Russian literature, Dostoevsky was a very famous Russian writer of the
19th century. Perhaps his most famous novel is "Crime and Punishment."
Our tour guide today was amazing and spoke wonderful English. We moved
quickly, but it was nice. I don't particularly like Dostoevsky's
works, but his life in itself was amazing. And while we were at the
museum, we got to meet Dostoevsky's great grandson! That was very
exciting! After our excursion to this museum / last apartment of
Dostoevsky, my roomate Chelsea and I, along with our Russian tutor
Marina, hunted down the mall. I think we successfully managed to find
the only "American-like" mall in St. Petersburg. So, we got some
t-shirts, ate at the Subway (yummy!) and then came back to the dorms
where I am typing you all this email.

My next email will not be sent until at least next Wednesday because
my class is concluding and I have an essay to write for class. So, I
hope everyone is doing well! Have a good week!!!
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