And welcome to my blog once again. Time is flying, which is good because it means I’m having an awesome time, but is bad because it means the end is coming nearer and I don’t want that. But, let’s not think about that just yet!
Today was another great day. It was the only day during this course that I was entirely free. I had no class, no excursion, nothing. I could just do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and that’s what I did.
I did not set my alarm clock, but I notice that here I always wake up around eight o’clock. I don’t always get up then and I still catch some sleep, but I don’t sleep very deeply anymore.
So, today. Eventually I did get out of bed, because you just have to at some point. And after I got out of bed and completed my morning ritual I made my homework. I still had to do that, because I didn’t feel like doing it yesterday, but today it had to be done. Not that I mind. My homework usually is making one or two exercises and reading a story in the book, which are all Russian fairy tales, so that is just plain fun to do. The exercises are not so hard to make and reading the story takes a little longer than usually because I look up all the words I don’t understand, but it’s interesting.
And then I just relaxed for a while, did a little bit of everything and nothing and just well, as I said, relaxed. Around one o’clock I’d had enough of that, though, and I needed some fresh air, so I just decided to go somewhere. I still have two places I absolutely want to see before I go home and they were the insides of the cathedral and the prison at the Peter and Paulsettlement and the Alexander Nevskimonastery. After deliberating a little I decided to go for the first thing today and to do the monastery at some other time this week.
So, I gathered all my stuff, grabbed my camera and went on my way. I first stopped at the supermarket to pick up some money. Yes, we do that at the supermarket. Cash automats everywhere here!
And then I took the bus to the underground and there I took the train to the settlement. Once there it took me some time to find the entrance to the settlement, but I didn’t mind the walk at all. I was actually up for a walk anyway, so I just enjoyed the fresh air and the warmth and took my time to walk towards the settlement.
Once there I bought the ticket for the prison and the cathedral and made my way towards the cathedral first. The cathedral is in itself quite beautiful, but is special because every tsar since Peter the Great has been buried there (apart from two I believe) and also the Romanov family has been buried there in 1998.
So, as I said the insides are very beautiful, there is a lot of gold again, but what surprised me most was that the tombs were all quite simple. Especially the one from Peter the Great surprised me as it was pretty much the same as all the others. The only thing that shows clearly that it is his grave is the fact that there’s a bust of him on it, but apart from that it looks exactly the same as the others and the only thing that shows you it’s truly his grave is the name plate.
The simplicity of the grave surprised me, but I kind of liked it. It is quite strange. It is “just” a grave and yet it feels so special to stand there and know that it is Peter the Great lying there, the man who founded this city.
As for the Romanov family, they are buried in a chapel in the cathedral. On the walls you see the stones with their names on it and there is a white tomb in which they are actually buried. I’m not sure if they all are buried there already. In 1998 only five of the seven members of the family were buried there because DNA-analysis was still being executed on the other two. They have been confirmed to be the two remaining members, but I don’t know for sure if they have been buried there already or not.
Anyhow, again it may be “just” a grave, but it is a feeling that it hard to describe to stand there. I guess this family and their fate is something that many people care for in some way or another. Many people don’t know much about Russia’s history, but I guess pretty much everyone has heard of this story. I guess I must say that their fate was my first knowledge about Russian history as well. I remember reading about them when I was still very young, reading their story, being fascinated about it. Maybe this is where my interest for Russia has begun and it, unconsciously, has something to do with why I chose to study Russian. I don’t know, point is that this story is the story in Russian history that I’ve known the longest, so to stand there is absolutely a very special feeling. I don’t know in which way it is special. I do know that standing there just does something to you. And it lingers, even know while I’m writing this blog.
Maybe it’s just something about the psychology of standing at a grave of important historic figures. I had the same thing when I went to Lenin’s mausoleum, I had the same thing going to the Novodevitsjij cemetery in Moscow and standing at the graves of Chechov, Gogol, Chroestjoev and others. I guess it’s just something about the psychology of standing there. The fact that this is their final resting place and the place you can be closest to them as possible. There’s no way to get nearer. Wow, I’m getting all philosophic here. It must be the mood that came to me when I was standing there and which still resurfaces when I’m thinking about it.
Okay, enough psychology and philosophy about graves, let’s go to the next bunch but then about a different subject. After the cathedral I went to the Trubetskoy prison. It was a state political prison and Peter the Great’s own son had the “honour” of being the first prisoner. He was tortured there and died because of it. No one ever managed to escape the fortress. Other famous prisoners were Kropotkin, Gorky, Trotsky and Dostoevsky. The latter spent eight months in this prison before his deportation to Siberia. Also Lenin’s brother was a prisoner here, he was held there and executed because he was planning to kill tsar Alexander III.
What can I say about it, again the feeling of walking there is quite special. The atmosphere is far below zero and it is impossible to feel good when you’re walking through the corridors seeing the cells which only contained a bed, a small table and a small tap. The cells were bigger than I had expected, but the coldness of the places does not make that to a good thing.
It’s a terrible place and you can just feel that terrible things have happened there. At the same time it is worth seeing it, because it kind of makes you realise exactly how cruel things could sometimes be. There’s no way you can minimise the things that happened there once you’ve seen the place.
Even now, when I write about it so many hours later, goosebumps still hits me, the negative kind and yet I’m happy I’ve seen this place, happy in another sense than just happy happy.
Anyway, this were enough emotional visits in one day for me, so I decided to go home after this. It was quite late in the afternoon anyway. I decided to go back by bus and walked to the bus stop very slowly trying to shake of the kind of strange feeling that had crept up to me visiting these places.
Back home I relaxed some more and chatted some with Camille and Kasper and we just had fun, which blew away the last remnants of those strange feelings that have now crept up to me again because I wrote about it. But it’s fine, I think these kinds of places should leave a kind of impression and that’s what they did.
Tomorrow I have class at one and that’s all I have planned for now, but I’ll see. I still have an entire evening to fill afterwards and I’ll see what I can still do then.
The weather today was absolutely beautiful. The sun shone, it was absolutely hot outside. Internet said it was 19 degrees, but I’m quite sure we passed 30 degrees. There was a breeze every now and then as well. It was absolutely lovely weather.
And that’s it for today!