Monday, March 10, 2014

Russia Day 19: St Petersburg, Grand Maket and Playoff game!

Awoke at 4am with some stomach distress, which went away with some fluids, antacids and getting vertical for a while. Got back to sleep, and was up again around 9:30, but not feeling full of energy. Sent some laundry in to be cleaned (just as expensive here as in Moscow, but I need some more clean clothes!), and had breakfast.

My left knee is feeling sore, so I decided that today won't be a major walking day. I thought about a couple things to do: taking the hop on/hop off city bus tour that drives around all the major sights, and visiting the Grand Maket: a large model representing all of Russia. There might be time for both before grabbing dinner and getting to the hockey game. By the time I was ready to head out it was lunch time, so I had a nice bowl of spaghetti at an Italian restaurant down the street, and then walked on to Nevsky Prospekt, to the bus stop for the tour bus. For some reason it didn't come when the online schedule said it would. Maybe it's not running in the winter, and they haven't updated the web site? Maybe it was running very late due to bad traffic? For whatever reason, after waiting about 10 extra minutes, I gave up and headed to the nearby subway station, and went to the Grand Maket museum. I got the audio guide (in English, after initially getting a Russian one by mistake), and started exploring the massive model.

 The Peter and Paul Fortress model

 This thing is massive, covering about 800 sq m or about 8,000 sq feet.

Apparently there are over 200,000 little tiny people in the model, along with countless cars, busses, trucks and trains, all driving back and forth, and many other interactive features that you can activate with a button, like cranes and helicopters. While not at all to scale, it tries to generally represent all of Russia, including recognizable features from a few major cities. The overhead lights dim every several minutes, so you can see the model at night, with all the lights illuminates. It was pretty wondrous.

I found a cafe on my way back to the metro, and had chebureki for dinner. These were similar to a calzone, with some questionable meat and onions inside. I'm glad I tried them, but am not a huge fan.

I quickly noticed today that most women are carrying flowers with them. Tomorrow is International Women's Day, and in Russia that is one of the most important holidays. At first I thought perhaps these women were getting flowers for their mothers, but as the day went on and I saw more and more of them, I thought perhaps every woman got flowers at work (since it's Friday and the holiday falls on the weekend this year). 

After dinner I got back on the metro to go to the hockey game. And here's another observation about the metro: the escalators are so long that when two people ride together, one of them generally turns around and rides backwards, so they can talk on the way. Or make out.

The SKA team's rink is a lot newer, larger and nicer than the one where I saw CSKA play in Moscow. And the food is a lot better; I would have been better off eating at the game, but based on my previous experiences in Sochi and Moscow, I assumed the food would be crappy there. I bought a nice SKA hat at a souvenir stand, and then found my way to my seat: firth row up at the blue line. Every seat in the lower bowl (and some in the upper bowl) had a blue SKA Tshirt draped over it, along with a pair of inflatable noisemakers that you bang together as you cheer. There was a special cheering section (for the home team this time), with a drum, huge flags, and all the people in it chanting and swaying/jumping in unison all through the game. The crowd was very noisy, and it really felt like a playoff game. I recognized at least two of the SKA players: Ilya Kovalchuk and former Leaf Alexei Ponikarovsky.

 The cheering section, right behind the net.

SKA appeared to be wearing their third jersey,
with "Leningrad" (the former name of St Petersburg)
in place of the usual "CKA" over a red star.
I found it kind of strange that the front of the jersey had Cyrillic writing,
while the names on the back were all in English/Roman lettering.

(I have more photos on my iPhone, but for some reason they have not synced across Google+/iCloud to be accessible for this blog from my iPAD. I may need to fix that up from my laptop when I get home...)

No comments:

Post a Comment