Monday, September 20, 2010

St. Petersberg

I can’t think of a fun­ny ti­tle for this. I con­sid­ered “Piter, Piter, Pump­kin Eater” but that doesn’t make any sense. (They call it 'Piter' for short in Russia.)

I just spent two days in St. Pe­ters­berg; I’m writ­ing the draft of this on the ex­press train down to Moscow.

The last time I vis­it­ed St. Pe­ters­berg was in 2003; in the in­ter­im, un­sur­pris­ing­ly, the In­ter­na­tion­al Tourist City Bland Bomb has gone off. The dark streets lined with strip clubs and seedy bars with free ad­mis­sion for for­eign­ers have been re­placed with bright neon-​ad­ver­tis­ing-​slathered streets lined with $5-a-​cup cof­fee shops, chain sushi restau­rants, and gener­ic shop­ping cen­ters. I re­mem­ber a lot of hook­ers and skin­heads; now it’s most­ly tour bus­es full of old peo­ple and Japanese. An air of spu­ri­ous fes­tiv­ity and shit­loads of traf­fic clog Nevs­ki Prospekt. Prices are a bit low­er than Moscow, but still about on the lev­el of most Eu­ro­pean cities.

Al­so, the mys­te­ri­ous alche­my born of moder­ni­ty has oc­curred by which men be­come slim and ef­fem­inate and well-​dressed and wom­en be­come heavy and fumpy and wear no make­up and big glass­es. Wom­en in Piter didn’t seem any bet­ter look­ing than wom­en in any oth­er city.

I met with some girls who I had known years ago in Sama­ra; none of them are mar­ried but all of them soon will be.

It’s a beau­ti­ful city, though. Can’t de­ny that. Had a love­ly view from my ho­tel, which was rather run­down and full of a box­ing team from Bashko­rtis­tan, who looked a bit in­tim­idat­ing but as they were in town for a cham­pi­onship were well-​be­haved apart from eat­ing vo­ra­cious­ly at the break­fast buf­fet.

Al­so went to the Her­mitage — where they were has­sel­ing Rus­sian peo­ple to show their pass­ports to prove they on­ly had to pay 100 rubles, com­pared to the 400 rubles that the for­eign­ers have to pay.

So ba­si­cal­ly I’m com­ing to the con­clu­sion that the on­ly rea­son to live in Rus­sia now is if you smoke, as cigarettes are still cheap and you can smoke most places.

I don’t smoke.


Kiribati said...

But you'll still be back anyway !!

English teacher Nathaniel said...

For someone who constantly moans about Russia, you spend an awful lot of time wrting about it, AND going back there to spend your cash. An addiction you cant shake?

jesterpr said...

I refuse to believe the place is as bland and asexual as the USA. Maybe it's not Babylon anymore, but it still is a candy shop (relative) for a deprived Anglosphere dude. Care to comment, X?

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