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10 July 1994

Well gee! I only have three days left before I go home! I feel kind of ridiculous because I haven't mailed those postcards I've written yet. I also haven't bought any of the presents I promised I'd buy people. I'll just have to make a point of doing that, then.

The fountains, illustrated The excursion today was to a water park built by order of the tsar Peter the Great. It was filled with innumerable fountains of all shape, sizes, and types. Among them were gold statues of muscular men fighting fearsome monsters spouting water, 50 foot high water spouts, falls of water running down giant steps, and other spectacular hydraulic feats. Of the novelty variety, there was a fountain with three squirting wooden ducks going round in a circle along with a dog, who was incongruously out of place. Another fountain was a rectangle of water pipes all point inward that spouted water about two inches high, until, that is, you stepped on a certain stone in the middle of the rectangle and the water shot up and soaked you. A third was a sort of pavillion, with water all the way around the edge like a curtain when, unexpectedly, it would pour down in a solid sheet all around you.

The park was full of people having a good time. Little kids were running around in their underwear or bathing suits or naked (it was hot today), getting wet and generally enjoying themselves. The park was big and there were lots of things to see.

I got wet, too. My favorite fountain in the park was a very large (fake) tree, water spouting pleasantly from its branches. Next to it was a long, white bench. What was important was behind the bench was a randomly spouting fountain. The trick was to either walk past the bench without getting wet, or to walk past the bench and get as wet as you possibly could. We (Olga, driver, and I) went past a couple of times and got sufficiently wet for a laugh and a cooling off.

We also went through a wax museum that had statues of famous tsars and related people from Peter to Paul (no Mary) to Catherine, down to Rasputin and finally Nicholas II, the last tsar, who was shot to death with his family during the Russian Revolution.

This was probably the most fun and most pleasant place I've been to in Russia. I recommend it to everyone who visits there.25

25 I have vague but warm memories of the water park, although the wax museum I recall being a bit creeped out (as all right-thinking people should in a wax museum). It was good and hot in July and I'm a sucker for cooling off with a good old fashioned soak in some form of water (pool, fountain, ocean).

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