We’re going to have our next date in town, with Polina. She is also a couch surfer, couldn’t accommodate us due to lack of time, but could meet us in the evening. We went to an Irish pub and learned many things about Russia from the young student. Putin doesn’t have many friends in Saint Petersburg. This city is unusually cosmopolitan and modern. Openly lived homosexuality is not a problem here. However, the media cannot be trusted anywhere and the laws in Russia are said to be terrible and are taken ad absurdum by corruption. “In Germany you have rules that make sense. In Russia you have rules to break them”.
We also learn that one does not toast with the well-known “Nastrowje”, but that the whole thing is called “Sastrowje” in Russian. The former comes from Poland and has successfully displaced the Russian toast in our minds. We now heard “I love the German language” from Polina and were surprised again.
The next day we were not stopped from our plan by a surprising invitation and walked to the famous Hermitage to visit this palace and museum. However, hundreds of other people also had the same idea and the queue stood far into the square before the gates opened. We wondered about having to queue for hours while our guide raved about the fact that these times are long gone and that every tourist can now quickly get into the large museum thanks to the ticket machines. However, due to a technical problem, this option was not available that day. The wait was really gross. We looked enviously at one or the other tour group who disappeared past the queue through the entrance. However, we had a positive surprise when we finally stood at the ticket booth. For once, admission was free – and we saved the equivalent of 25 euros per person.
Once I had spent many hours in the Louvre, fascinated, and I had to be dragged out when it closed in the evening. The Hermitage should have three times as many exhibits. Catherine the Great had the castle built and already collected large amounts of art in her day. In addition to many works by the most famous artists of the Renaissance across Europe, there are also legendary works related to the Russian tsarist family, such as some of the legendary Fabergé eggs. But also many historical pieces, stone tablets and busts from the Babylonian Palmyra or sarcophagi from Egypt can be found here in the basement.
The Hermitage cats are also well known. Since many of the exhibits were popular food for small heat-loving rodents at the time, a regiment of cats was hired to defend human history. But better and more modern defense systems made the cats unemployed, but not dismissed. They still prowl through the vaults and in the courtyard you can see them being fed round and round with gratitude.
There was one other little thing we had to do in Saint Petersburg: visit the UAZ store. The original reason for our trip. Of course we couldn’t carry any car parts in our luggage, but we wanted to see what was there; In addition, our car needed a new engine because it had dismantled the old one in Bavaria.
We saw lots of interesting winches, gears, and assets to grow. The UAZ was really loved and, like a Lego car, was expanded at will by fans. They called a guy, who was the only one who spoke English, so we could explain why we German tourists got lost here in this inhospitable edge of Saint Petersburg.
EThe man looks at us in awe. We expected more enthusiasm. “You have UAZ in Germany? Whhyyyyy ??? Russian cars are not good. You have Mercedes, Audi, BMWäääää! ”Well, but no four-wheel-drive box vans with a hundred possible expansion stages. Pimp my UAZ. Uli once showed me a video in which bored Siberians had even developed a caterpillar drive for a UAZ. The UAZ salesman was right about one point. The quality of the cars was the opposite of the quality of the concept behind it. Because the processing of the well-designed commercial vehicles was catastrophic. Uli’s plan was to compensate for this disadvantage with a complete overhaul.
There should also be no problem finding spare parts when traveling through most of the Russian-influenced Asian countries.
Now it was a problem, however, since the iron curtain was being rebuilt economically through the sanctions against Russia through the Ukraine crisis. You could buy an engine, but not send it to Germany. It was only available within Russia, and understandably we couldn’t get there with our UAZ in its condition. So we would have to take another van at least to Kaliningrad, where there was another UAZ branch. That wasn’t an option for us. We said thank you and left the shop with dark thoughts but nice impressions of exciting parts. Later in Germany, Uli found out that the individual parts of the engine could very well be sent to you.
I had a couple of postcards to send to those who stayed at home, which occurred to me when I saw a post here. I beat the Russian words for “elf”, “postage stamps” and “postcards” in my head, only to toss them at the feet of the tiny old lady with a friendly smiling “spaßiba”. Carefully looking into my eyes, she repeated every single word, which I confirmed with a “there”. Then an unexpected marathon began. She rummaged in drawers and pulled out an incredible number of bundles of stamps. She wrote me on a piece of paper that each postcard needed 35 rubles in stamps, that is 11x. However, I did not have the postcards with me. Apparently there were no 35 ruble brands. Also no 30 ruble brands. No 5 ruble stamps either. For whatever reason.
In any case, with the zeal of an assembly line worker, the lady began to cut out eleven 20-ruble tokens, eleven 10-ruble tokens, eleven-1-ruble tokens, and twenty-two 2-ruble tokens and hand me a large bundle.
We tried to find a good Russian eatery again, but that day we wandered through the city and found only kebab shops or Chinese restaurants. We finally found something Russian in a run-down shop, but the food there tasted like the inside of the restaurant looked. The city could have said goodbye to us a little better, we thought – and the city heard. In the glow of the night we again had a breathtaking backdrop to take wonderful photos and get on the plane with good memories.