London 1 – 26 May 2012

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London.

The Boltons Hotel in Earls Court. Refurbished tiny room, very nice.

Tube to Leicester Square. The heart of the West End at 8pm on a Saturday night. The man with the cane – We are not amused!

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The walk down Whitehall to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and The London Eye.

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My Apple Genius friends from Hamburg, the changing colours of Selfridges and store windows in Oxford Street.

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The Tube back to Earls Court.

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St Petersburg 4 – 26 May 2012

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A walk to the Nikolskiy Cathedral, past Yusupov Palace where Rasputin met his end, the statues of Rimsky Korsakov and Glinka. The fire station, a Russian Chinese restaurant, an old dirty car.

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The Trinity Church. A change in weather means on with the poncho, but it only lasts a couple of minutes. A market next to the church, eating chinese and mexican in Russia, a building needing repair, and just married in a Min in Russia.

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The drive to the airport. Some interesting buildings and monuments along the way.

The airport terminal does not have any airline signs until after one passes through security.

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St Petersburg 3 – 25 May 2012

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A one hour boat trip on the canals and waterways of St Petersburg. Take from Anichkow Bridge on the Nevsky Prospekt. Tickets from outside Tavern Athens.

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A long walk past the Mikhaylovskiy Castle, the Cathedral and some beautiful parks

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Flower beds and Peter The Great – Small House Museum

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Peter and Paul Fortress across the Neva River.

Watch how people throw money at the Wallaby, the kid then jumps across and then counts the money he has just made.

Also, check out the beach. Enjoying the sunshine.

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Across the bridges back to the hotel. Spending a delighful Friday evening outdoors.

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Kabbalat Shabbat at 9.05pm at the Choral Synagogue.

St Petersburg 2 – 24 May 2012

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Today is my big day at the Hermitage

The buildings opposite my hotel.

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The Hermitage – maginificent! Never seen anything like it!

Spend 5 hours there! About 1000 photos

I’ll let my selection of photos here do the talking!

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A Night at the Opera. The Mariinsky Concert Hall again for The Magic Flute by Mozart.

Here is the overture.

 

Some images at the booking office and at the concert hall.

Notwithstanding that the story is very complicated and is sung in Russian, it is an exellent performance which is very enjoyable. The performers move around the audience, drawing us in to the action.

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After the opera which ended at 10:30 pm

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St Petersburg 1 – 23 May 2012

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After checking in, I go searching for the Mariinsky Theatre and the Choral Synagogue.

Make sure you have a good map of this city, as it has canals and it can be confusing. It is known as the Venice of the North.

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The beautiful Choral Synagogue also has a lovely gift store and a kosher store and is run by Chabad. Anatoly showed me around. Polina is the friendly receptionist from Siberia. Also check out the bridal room.

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The Colonnade – the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral. Excellent views of the city.

Watch out – lots of stairs!!

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The Mariinsky Concert Hall –  the Carmen Suite and Giselle Ballets by the Kirov.

The concert is not in the Opera House. The standard is, as you can imagine, very high. Book on the official Mariinsky website and get a discounted ticket.

After the evening performance, it is strange to walk out into the bright sunlight!

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The sun sets very late in St Petersburg – 11pm this week.

It is only dark at midnight. So expect to stay up late, especially if you want to see St Petersburg at night!

Arrive in two weeks time and night is barely distinguishable from day. Known as the White Nights.

These photos are taken very late at night. See the time on my iPhone.

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Moscow 3 – 22 May 2012

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The big walk today. Headed north from the hotel along Petrovka Street.

Moscow Museum

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Novaya Opera Theatre. From the street, one can hear the voices in rehersal. Preparing the set.

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Moscow traffic and street signs along Sadovaya Karetnaya Street – both familiar or unrecognisable ones. Glinka Museum of musical instruments

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Tverskaya Street, Moscow’s best known street.

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Chabad Shul in Bolshaya Bronnaya Street.

Nice bunch of Yeshiva boys. Benzion and Levy show me around.

The secret trap door where they used to hide in the bad days.

Someone arriving in a fancy car. Can’t be the gabbi!!

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A Jewish Memorial nearby.

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Street scenes and then the Old Arbat Mall.

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Smolensky Boulevard. A soviet style government building and a Metro station.

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Across the Krymsky Bridge to Gorky Park – what an interesting place and unexpected activities! Moscow’s equivalent to Central Park. 

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Bolotnaya Place – where lovers lock their love.

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The walk back to the hotel via Bolshaya Polyanka Street, the Kamenny Bridge and past the Kremlin. People enjoying the evening in the park. Lovely shop windows near the Hotel Budapest.

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The Red Arrow train from Leningradsky Station to St Petersburg.

Leaves 2355 and arrives 0800 next morning.

Share compartment with Slava Kalinin, a businessman from St Petersburg. 

Very pleasant journey and very nice chatting to Slava till about 1.30 am. Bunk converts to bed. 7am breakfast before arriving in St Petersburg. Bus to Northern Lights Boutique Hotel.

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Moscow 2 – 21 May 2012

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About a 25 minute walk from my hotel to the beautiful Moscow Choral Synagogue.

3 synagogues in the same building. No photos of the Georgian synagogue, which was shut when I went back to take some photos. Choral synagogue is mainstream Orthodox. Lots of learning activity. Met Rabbi Meir Manwich and Alexand Salikov.

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Views of Moscow streets. Temperature gauges on outside of buildings and interesting door handles.

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The underground shopping centre in the front of Red Square and other views around and in the Kremlin. Tour of the Armoury – no photos allowed.

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Changing of the Guard. The Goosestep!

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Area along the Moskva River

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Photos inside rym – pronounced Gum, an outstanding shopping centre in Red Square

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Moscow by night around Red Square. 

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Moscow 1 – 20 May 2012

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12 noon flight from Riga to Moscow Domodedovo Airport.

Passport control officer spent ages examining my passport, but no issues.

Aeroexpress to Paveletsky train station, takes 45 minutes.

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Metro to Okhotny Ryad station opposite Bolshoi. 2 stops.

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Budapest Hotel nearby. Excellent location. Bolsoi and lots of interesting buildings.

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Red Square is quite amazing. Can’t help taking lots of photos (more than usual for me, so that means a few)!

One must stay till dark (late) to get great lighting. Police close the square at 10pm and there is some building activity going on, so view is restricted in parts.

Rym shopping centre is stunning.

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The Bolshoi at night.

Lots of flash cars. Very upmarket stores. Tsum department store trades on world top class brands. Fantastic window displays.

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Riga 2 – 19 May 2012

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An early morning walk to where my grandfather’s apartment was in Riga, then to shul.

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A drive out to a beach suburb, Vecmilgravis, where I met Ilona’s family – Mila, Anna, Ernest and the pets – Richmond, Rocky, Solomon, Tom and Jerry. A lovely lunch.

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The beach on the Baltic Sea. Gearing up for summer.

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Riga is busy. All the museums are open for free, all day until late.

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The Museum – Jews in Latvia, is also open tonight

I meet the Director, Ilya Lensky, who has just appeared on the Rashida Jones episode of Who Do You Think You Are that I just watched.

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Across to the Old Town. Big crowds and queues.

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The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which includes Jewish and Holocaust exhibits.

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The Town Hall

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I get to my hotel at 1 am and the museums and streets are still busy.

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Vilnius to Riga – 18 May 2012

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Some morning views of Vilnius.

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More of the Choral Synagogue

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The Lux bus to Riga.

Girl who sat next to me was from Bunbury!

Watched Rashida Jones epoisode of Who Do You Think You Are.

She discovers her Jewish family background in Latvia and visits Riga.

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Riga  – met by Ilona again this year. Hotel, Riga Synagogue and then a lovely early dinner at Lido, a Latvian food and entertainment place. I go to Friday night service at Riga shul.

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Riga by night

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