Friends who have been to Moscow describe it as rather ugly and depressing. I don’t know if that’s true, but I found St. Petersburg to be as lively and beautiful as any European capital.
Judging by the number of expensive autos I saw on the streets, the residents have made a rapid transition to the market economy.
At my hotel they served the same breakfast every day: kasha, scrambled eggs and fat pink sausages which to my American taste buds were simple hot dogs. Not sure if this was typical but it was rather monotonous.
No surprise here, but the Russians drink a lot of vodka. On the last day of the conference there was a reception with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Wine and beer is de rigueur at these events, but in addition there was a bottle of vodka. No mixer either — you drink it straight from a shotglass.
One night we had dinner at a place called the Russian Vodkahouse. Every time you drank a shot, there was a waiter at your elbow offering to pour from another bottle. I drank seven shots, and never tried the same variety twice. One was flavored with horseradish! It was surprisingly good.
The women of St. Petersburg have a high standard of beauty. Enough said.
And finally, let me just add this: those czars really knew how to live.
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