So after our mammoth drive, we actually had a day of not driving at all, which was welcomed I think by all. Some people were up at 10:00, others a fraction later, and around the corner we all went for breakfast.
Quality of food, coffee etc here is high, and the prices are reasonable, then we all walked a bit to some big churchy thing, where the slight cultural differences were made to show themselves again, I think the majority wandered into the church, but cannot confirm this, as our small two man cultural team went the other way, with the firm commitment to drink a beer and ride on a boat. Within no time at all, we found ourselves in an obscure courtyard, with a very small 1 room craft beer shop in it, 250 beers, 10 on tap, we had a beer.
The basics for the start of the day done, we went randomly around the place, found an interesting round building, and went to see what it was, no joy, security would not let us in, so we went down the side of the building thinking we could get to the next street, unfortunately a wall in the way, came back and noticed you could go into the middle of the building, so we did thinking we could get out the back that way. We could not, door was locked, needed a key card, went back to try and leave through the archway, and watched as the gates electronically closed in front of our eyes. Small amount of cursing, and then we noticed a women going through the locked door, we quickly followed her, and were in the building, only to discover that the door, windows and all we covered with a grate and padlocked, ….damm. Went upstairs ignored various people, nothing of interest, came back down, discovered keycard door, was now locked again and we could not leave, were beginning to think of a new plan, when a man came out, we followed quickly, across the courtyard, and followed him into the other side of the building, we went up the stairs and were now behind the security checkpoint, went up more stairs, discovered we were in the University of Economics, did actually look for a lecture theatre with no success, decided time to leave. Went past the security guard and back out in the city, suspect they should maybe think their security concept.
Randomly walked about a bit, landed in a back alley area, where we found an enormous somewhat dubious flea market, copied brand shoes, clothes, cigarettes, was interesting and surprisingly large. We left and landed on a new “we have no idea where we are street”, one of us thought left was correct, the other right, we compromised and went straight on.
Found an interesting looking restaurant, went in, was full of Russians and self-service, we took a tray, followed the queue, pointed at food we thought we might like, got a beer, went to the cashier and paid. Searched and found a table, tom & jerry was silently running on the television, had forgotten how totally crap that really was. Food was ok but not stunning, then again beer and food had just cost three euros.
Put our trays in the rack, like good Russians, went outside with our beer, learnt another new fact for the day, you are not allowed to drink on the streets, as the short comment from the police of “no alcohol” made clear, finished our beer and decided to take a bus, quick discussion in which direction, and decided on the side of the street with more buses, sorted out some coinage to pay. Bus turned up, we get on, driving sealed off completely, no-where to pay, ah well never mind, the bus drives one stop and crosses a river with tourist boats which was our plan for the day, so got off and went back to the river. Perfect, bought a ticket, got on, the boat left, water here is very very high here at the moment, i.e. don’t stand up in the boat, you could touch the bridges going underneath them. Boat chugged along, woman droned on in english about things, we absorbed a lot history and other things of cultural significance. Now know where all the tsars are buried, founding of the city, seen the summer and winter palaces, and the old frigate Aurora, which fired a blank which started the Russian revolution in 1917, etc.
Felt exhausted after so much intellectual stimulation, decided we needed to go back to bed, used our walk in large circles navigation method, and somehow found the hostel, congratulated ourselves on being brilliant, went to bed.
An hour later, the other half of the group was back, time to get up drink some sparkling wine, and go to a wine bar, to fulfil our sponsorship deal, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we found the wine bar, after a certain amount of time got some wine, which was very good, sponsorship interviews were going on, food and wine was ordered by the rest. Wine again good, food alright, but general feeling, for being in a wine bar, much too long a time spent with an empty glass.
Left wine bar, saw sign saying beer club, went there, again an amazingly large choice of beer, was just happy to have a non empty glass, then the normal discussion where next, talk of underground clubs, dancing and things. Luckily before we got a taxi anywhere, spoke to a Russian, who basically said it’s Tuesday, everywhere is dead, so entered the next bar instead. Decided as we where not in white Russia, we need to drink a white Russian, with the help of google translate, got the ingredients translated and actually received a quite passable white Russian. In a moment of madness, followed the barman’s next recommendation which was jägermeister and a some sort of fruit juice, tasted better than it smelt, but to be honest is not a drink I would reorder. Now about 3:00 in the morning, and tomorrow we have to drive again, there is a party somewhere tomorrow, a mere 500 kms away. Time for bed, with plans to buy some of the “bread” tasting vodka tomorrow morning it I can.