Sporting Bonus

I have just had the opportunity to see the start of Rally Russia from the comfort of my hotel window. It seems that this annual event starts here and has an international competitor base. There was a long period of speeches which were spoken in Russian and then translated into English – that was fortunate for me – otherwise I would have been clue-less! In any case the competitors all had to drive their car on the the ramp before being sent on their way at about 1 minute intervals. Lots of helium filled balloons were released as part of the starting ceremony which took place on St Isaacs Square. If you want some more information about the event click here which can be viewed in English if you don’t speak Russian either πŸ˜‰

Here is a picture I took of the occasion

here is some video commentry from last years event – no translation this time though.

Another year – now time flies!!!

Well it’s that time again πŸ˜‰

It is a year since the last time we celebrated this occasion. Need a clue? If so click below! But if you know – just read on!!!

Click here for big clue

Last year is was a special occasion of course – but then every opportunity we have to celebrate this occasion is special! 31 years – dear me!!!! Seems like a life time for sure! This time we are very far apart but it is still a happy time! To be honest each year that passes life gets sweeter! Now, I know that sounds like a convenient saying – but in our case it is really true.

It’s wonderful to have had the opportunity to share my life with Mary all these years! We have so much to look back on with happiness and real joy. In some ways I feels just like yesterday when we lead the wedding procession, at a bit of a gallop, around the Rescue Hall in Peterhead – if you were there you will know what I mean πŸ˜‰

I just wanted to acknowledge this moment in a more unusual way!

Happy anniversary Mary and thanks for being my rock throughout each and every one of our 31 years of happy and fulfilling married life!

St Petersburg some general comments

Beautiful city although this is – I have a few comments to make about my first impressions upon arriving here!!!

The journey here consisted of two flights – ABZ to CDG and CDG to LED – I think that ABZ and CDG are pretty easy to guess – but LED is less straight forward!!! Have you worked out how St Peterburg comes to be LED and ABZ is Aberdeen and CDG is Charles De Gaul πŸ˜‰ read on!!!!

Well it happened to me – for the first time in the last six months travel!!!!! My bag did not arrive here with me!!! It remained in CDG!!!!!! This meant I had to fill in the customs form – twice for customs and then one more time for good measure for the lost property office. Now that can be just a little frustrating at the end of a long journey. But it has to be done in order to get you bag back – so you do it without question and bearing pleasant smile!!!!

So on to the hotel with only hand baggage in tow!

The car was very nice – a C Class Mercedes – very nice and comfortable for sure! As we drive back we pass lots of really nice buildings – first impression of very favourable for sure!

The we arrive at the hotel to check in ! The staff are VERY pleasant and do not seem to surprised in the least when I explain that I have no luggage, other then my back pack that is! Dental and shaving kits are provided as if this is just routine practice for recently arrived international travellers!!!

There is a TV in the room – flat screen of modest size – very good. All the channels seem to be in Russian – not so good!!!! I did eventually find the BBC World news channel which made me feel slight closer to home πŸ˜‰

I was very interested to hear the hot news about South Africa’s recent expressions about about Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe’s rule over it! An interesting development – I expect that we have not head the last of that just yet!

Yes I did find Friends on one channel – light relief I thought – then realised that it was overdubbed in Russian too! Some how it did not seem natural for those words to come out of the friends mouths!!! I wonder it the Friends humour really work here in amidst the Russian culture!

Mosquitoes – in St Petersburg!!!! now that was a surprise to me !!!! The windows have secondary glazing in place with labels which warning that leaving the windows open in the evening might result in a invasion of the dreaded Mosquito!! or perhaps a few of them!!! The hotel has thoughtfully provided and electric mosquito exterminator which can be used if needed! So I guess it must be a real problem! I have not seen one so far!

Well enough of this ramble – its time for bed now 10.30pm and still daylight outside – that is unusual too at this time of night – then we are much further north than Scotland and home πŸ˜‰

LED – did you forget or just know? St Petersburg used to be called Leningrad see Wikipedia for more info ! I expect that is the reason for this apparent inconsistency!

St Petersburg

I am currently embarked on my first trip to Russia – St Petersburg to be exact. What a wonderful city this is! I am not much into history but I have to say that the architecture here is really spectacular. I am staying at Hotel Astoria see below.I had to walk about 5 minutes from the hotel I am staying in to another where todays meetings were held. This involved a short walk across the square in front of the hotel past Saint Issacs Cathedral which is a pretty impressive building. It was built in the first half of the 19th century by the French architect Auguste Montferrand. It features 48 pillars which were formed from solid pieces of stone – there is an array of pillars on each side of the building just like to ones in the forefront of the picture below. Pretty awesome I have to say.

Below another photo of the hotel – inside this time. The dΓ©cor it from another era. Very lavish and impressive.
More of this later – the river is about a 5 min walk from the hotel and I hope to manage a stole down that way before I leave here.

If you want to see more now of this beautiful city check out these links which I Googled!!

A virtual tour of many of the sights

and the Wikipedia entry