"On May 16th, 1703, Czar Peter laid the cornerstone for the first building in Saint Petersburg. Quickly, glorious buildings were added, always being expanded, so that Nobility (bringing victory points) may want to move in. But to accomplish this, one needs merchants who can bankroll the necessary Rubles, or the glory is over. The competition isn't sleeping either, and can sometimes steal a desired card right out from under your nose."
"At 2 a.m. in St. Petersburg, Russia, girls trot down the sidewalk of the main avenue, Nevsky Prospect, offering horseback rides. Capitalism at its finest!"
"A vast palace filled with art and objects. And vast beyond what an average tourist would be able to see in one dazzling day. When you get into the museum, you may be approached by a freelance guide. Hire this person. They are not officially working for the museum, but the freelance guides there know their stuff.
Elena, our guide, had studied art history. She is pictured here with her fan. She tailored a tour to our interests, and was able to answer all of the odd and obscure questions we asked -- how high is this ceiling? where was there a painting of Potemkin? what kind of wood is this made of? -- as well as leading us through the highlights of the collections. It took 2 hours, cost 70 Euros (split among our group) and was so worth it."
"This slightly blurry picture from my cheap old digital camera is the only shot I've got to remind me of my visit here in 2004, when I was backpacking through Russia. The Winter Palace is best known today for housing The Hermitage, one of the world's great museums.
Always more interested in politics than art, I remember the room where Kerensky's Provisional Government was arrested by the invading Bolsheviks in 1917 being a particular highlight of the amazing interior.
This was August of 2004, and the flag was at half-mast because the aeroplane bombings of that month had just taken place. Days later there was an attack on the Moscow underground, and just after that came the Beslan massacre. It was a tense time to be in Russia to say the least, with armed soldiers suddenly posted at bridges, subways, stations and so on. I even got hauled in for questioning while going through an underground station in Yekaterinburg, but that's a story for another day!"