The Travel Diaries: A Tour of Russia

We're back! For the last 10 days Blair and I have been on a tour of Russia with quick stops in Estonia and Finland. We arrived back home around midnight on Thursday and are just now pulling out of the jet lag. (I woke up at 4:30 am on Friday full of energy, cleaned the house top to bottom, then promptly collapsed into bed for a 6-hour nap.) 

We haven't yet mustered the courage to sit down and go through our photos. The curse of the digital camera is that you feel the need to photo-document every step of your journey. I'll pick out the best and post soon. I'll also try and avoid giving a blow-by-blow description of our trip, although the next few blog entries will cover some of the highlights. 

For now, I leave you with the group photo above, taken outside the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The Winter Palace was the official residence of the Russian monarchs from 1732 to 1917 and is now the site of the Hermitage museum. We had quite the excursion there, but more on that later. I've also included a quick list of my observations of the many amenities--or not--offered during a tour of Russia. Enjoy!

What Russia Has In Abundance:

  • Salt
  • Dill (they eat it on EVERYTHING)
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Short skirts
  • High heels
  • Textured hose
  • Clean streets
  • Pollen
  • Smokers
  • Good bus system
  • Well trained and seemingly well-loved dogs
  • Portion controlled meals
  • Subway, McDonalds, Baskin Robbins, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Sbarro

What Russia Is Lacking: 

  • Smiles
  • Customer Service
  • Salad
  • Health Food
  • Wash cloths
  • Feral Cats
  • Obese people
  • Decaf coffee or tea
  • Soft beds 

It's good to be home. I've never considered myself an overly patriotic person but when the customs officer at Dulles stamped our passports upon reentry to the U.S. and said, "Welcome home, folks," I almost cried. God bless America.