Prologue:

Our philatelic friend, Henry Hahn, last year asked us if we were going to the World Stamp Show in St. Petersburg in 2007. He spoke highly of St. Petersburg so Earl applied to the show and his exhibit was accepted.

 

I started studying Russian.  Listened to 30 lessons of Pimsleur Level I and brushed up on my Cyrillic.  It wasn’t too hard as there were similarities to Bulgarian.  Earl had studied Russian back in college 40 years ago, so he’s a little rusty.  However, he won’t talk to me in Russian as he says my pronounciation drives him crazy. 

 

I was able to get 50% off the airfare using frequent flyer miles. Reserved a private room at a hostal in the center of St. Petersburg using hostelworld.com which gave us a savings of over half the price of the official hotel for the show.  Then I discovered Earl’s passport had expired when I applied for the Russian visas.  He sent off for a new passport mid-March only to discover that he had gotten caught in a national rush for passports.  He ended up having to get an expedited passport and visa the week before our trip.  It was an extra $450.

 

Watched a documentary on Catherine II for fun the week before we left.  We had seen “Russian Ark”, “Ivan the Terrible” and “Alexander Nevsky” only a few years ago so didn’t feel the need to watch them again.

 

 

Friday - 15 June 2007

 

Our friend, Jo, drove us to the Miami Airport and we had plenty of time to wait for our flight.  The security line for Air France was a little long but it went smoothly.  We got seated on the upper deck of a 747-400.  Haven’t been on an upper deck for a long time.  Earl doesn’t remember ever being on one. 

 

We had a layover in Paris for 8 hours, which wasn’t as bad as the last time we got caught there.  We found one of the few soft chairs in the terminals and hung out.  Nice thing with traveling with another person is that you can always have one person guard your stuff and your soft seat. 

 

Arrived in St. Petersburg at 9:40 pm.  The time  was eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.  We were wondering how to get to the hostel – whether to try the Metro or just hail a cab.  Earl saw a sign being held for the World Stamp Expo and asked them if we could get a ride to town.  Got to use my Russian language skills when Earl asked me how to say “not very far”. We got the ride but had to wait two hours for it.  The rest of the people that were getting picked up were caught in customs with their stamps. 

 

We finally arrived at the hostel at 1 am to find out that they had sent a car for us at the airport.  I had completely forgotten that I had reserved a transfer along with the hostel!  I hadn’t printout the email that confirmed the transfer.   I did look around at the various signs at the airport when we arrived.  The driver must have arrived after we came through customs.  Oh well. 

 

Our private room is huge.  Tall ceilings, a sofa, two easy chairs, tables, mirrored closet and two twin beds.

 
It was a lot neater before we attacked it

There is also a kitchen to share with the other private bedroom in our area
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