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26 June 1994

Olga's friend, John, from San Diego was supposed to come over at 1:00, but was two hours late. Olga's mom had a friend over. He spoke Spanish! Finally, someone I could converse with, even if it was with elementary Spanish. We didn't talk much, but it was fun to really test my skills in Español.6

John finally came over, and we toured the Catherine Palace with him. The palace was amazing, even though it was in the process of being restored. Everything was gilded. The floors were made out of different kinds of wood cut into different patterns. I didn't take any pictures, because it cost extra.7 It also cost extra for foreigners to get in, so we pretended we were mute Russians while Olga bought tickets.

John struck me as a little weird, but nice. He kind of reminded me of John Provo: he was kind of spacey.8

We also went to two other exhibitions: a clothing one and a carriage one. The clothes were from the turn of the century and they were the clothes of the servants and nobility of the palace. The carriages were all the various tsars', including one where Alexander the 1st had been bombed. He didn't die, though. There was also a carriage that had a toilet in it!

We didn't play tennis today.

6 Besides the conversation in Spanish with an elderly Russian gentleman, also high on the surreal list was watching Mexican soap operas dubbed over in Russian-- and some familiar shows from home, like "Rescue 911." By age 16 I think I'd had two years' (four semesters) worth of Spanish instruction. I still have a pretty high comprehension level in Spanish, but due to lack of practice, can't conjugate worth diddly squat.

7 A lot of the palaces, museums, etc. I visited charged extra for taking photos. I'm not sure how stringently it was enforced. At any rate, it served as a good crutch for my extreme phobia of taking photos in public places. I hated looking like a tourist. I got a lot of flak for not taking pictures, but my journal made up for it a lot.

8 John Provo was a coworker of my dad's, and his son Ben was in my class in high school. They were an interesting bunch. If he ever stumbles across this web site I hope he forgives my rather candid comment. It wasn't meant maliciously. ;)

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