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We spent our last day in Russia in its finest art museum, the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. Russia provides the world's best setting for a museum - displaying the works of art in the Winter Palace (the Hermitage is a subsection of the Palace). We found ourselves admiring the Palace trappings as much as the art of Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, etc. Our favorite item was a fancy cuckoo clock by James Cox; the clock marked the hour with a giant metal peacock that fanned its feathers, an owl that clicked its eyes and rotated its head, and a cock that crowed. The Hermitage displays too much art to be seen in one day, but at least we had a dose of high culture. We're sorry to leave Russia so soon. This country has something to offer everyone - long history, substantive museums, diverse culture, exciting nightlife, a few vestiges of Communism still in evidence for the nostalgic, and best of all, it's affordable once you get past the ridiculous airfare demanded by imperialistic and decadent Western airlines.
The Church of Spilled Blood - built over the ground where radical bombers blew up Tsar Alexander II. This Tsar was famous for abolishing Russian serfdom in the early 1860's (similar to Abe Lincoln's accomplishment with the slaves). Unfortunately for the Russian people, many of Alexander II's liberal reforms blew up with him. Strict repression followed his death. The radicals decided to change their 'blow up Tsar' policy.
Russian bowling? Contestants throw a heavy stick to knock out pins placed in various formations at the end of an alley.