Around St. Petersburg there is an array of small towns which have historical significance and imperial palaces in differing states of repair. The most popular for tourists is Peterhof, mostly because of the grounds and fountains, but the most popular palace is the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, with its celebrated Amber Room.  However, going in the palace is expensive and requires waiting a long time, I’ve already been several times, and Kostia lived in Pushkin for five years as a student, so we just went to Pushkin for a change of scenery and a nice stroll. That day everyone in St. Petersburg had the same idea – we had to wait a long time to get on a marshrutka (minibus) out of the city. But it was worth it.

(as usual, click to enlarge)

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This is not the Catherine Palace, but the Alexander Palace, which has not been restored to the same level of gaudiness.

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Lots of people had made themselves crowns of leaves. I wanted to make one too, but I didn’t know how. I almost got up the guts to ask a stranger, but then chickened out.

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In the town of Pushkin there are some city blocks where you could imagine you were in Western Europe, not Russia. These newly-constructed houses are a far cry from the concrete tower blocks going up everywhere in St. Petersburg proper.

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Back to reality. Nice flames, dude!

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Arriving back in St. Petersburg, a football (soccer) match between Zenit (SPb) and Spartak (Moscow) had just ended. We saw a remarkable number of people wearing Spartak red instead of Zenit blue, and the next day I saw this pro-Spartak graffiti. Maybe the fact that the game was on a Saturday afternoon made it easy for lots of Spartak fans to come up just to support their team. Muscovite invasion!