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29 June 1994

Today I went to the Hermitage in St Pete. It was amazing. A palace converted into a museum, it was the most interesting place I've visited so far. One area was full of paintings by famous artists (Monet, for example). I saw the famous picture "Red Room," by I can't remember.14 The bottom floor had examples of art and craft from Russia. Upper floors included Eastern art, from Greece and Turkey to Japan and Indonesia. Many rooms were decorated with furniture or mannequins from certain time periods. The place was huge! I didn't even see 1/3 of it, I spent one and a half hours there. (It's like the Russian Smithsonian.)15

After that, we were going to go to a cafe for ice cream, but it was closed for repairs. St Petersburg is a bustling city, with some five million people in it. It is cosmopolitan, and in a way, reminded me of Guadalajara.

The rest of the day was anti-climactically uneventful. One interesting thing: Olga and Yala were witnesses to a crime (a robbery) and were questioned by the police. I wasn't there, Olga just told me about it.

Here is a list of my favorite things about the Hermitage:

  1. You don't have to wear those dorky slipper things over your shoes.
  2. It had more than one kind of thing exhibited, instead of rooms and rooms of somebody else's extremely luxurious house.
  3. More things in English.
  4. Had a lot about culture and art.

14 Henri Matisse's The Red Room (Harmony in Red), in the Matisse Room of the Hermitage. I know I studied this in some class in high school, but I'm not sure what the specifics were anymore.

15 I would love to go see the Hermitage again someday. It remains one of my favourite memories of St Petersburg. Though not really an analogue to the Smithsonian, it was a rich storehouse of culture and art.

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