It is another sunny, smoggy day in Russia. We pack up and leave Aleksandr's apartment in the morning as he's heading out for work. We shake hands and thank him for having us, and he wishes us all the best on our journey before walking towards the metro.
After a grocery run in a grimy discount shop (during which I realize I've miscalculated and I don't have enough money on me to pay for my things but I can't really communicate, and the long line behind me starts to get agitated, and the woman must get the manager to figure out how to void one of the items in the cash register…), we hit the road towards Peterhof palace.
When our GPS tries to send us directly through the city, I re-route on a major highway that circles around it. The detour adds twenty-some kilometers, but it will no doubt be much, much less aggravating.
On the highway, we crank up the radio and roll the windows down, tapping our fingers in time with the upbeat Russian techno we have blasting. Yaaahooo our Russian roadtrip is beginning! We reach Peterhof Palace under a bright noon sun which is not ideal for photo taking, but we manage to capture a few shots as we walk around the gardens.
Here is my second HDR image. Super bright light and very dark shadows contain too much dynamic range for a digital camera, but with some bracketing and the help of Photomatix Pro, I am able to capture this:
Here is Tyler's. He he is bummed about the weird artifacts everywhere (whitish blobs which you can easily see in the larger image) but keeps it anyway. This is one of the many shady, landscaped walkways throughout the grounds:
It is difficult to capture the enormity of the palace, so we content ourselves with this small bit of it:
After a walk around the palace gardens, admiring the many fountains (and wishing that we were swimming in them), we head back to our LRC to hit the road. Just outside of Peterhof, I spy this weinerdog sign on the back of a truck. As we pass, Tyler leans out the passenger window, capturing it just in the nick of time:
After some driving, we arrive at the town of Novogrod. I think we should keep going if we want to make it to Moscow by the time we've agreed to meet our next set of hosts, but Tyler is unconcerned. I'm glad he insists on stopping, because it turns out to be just the sort of place I like to visit.
We park the car in a shady spot and walk over a bridge towards the town's Kremlin, or old city fortifications. Clouds have come to the rescue, covering the hot sun with a protective cooling layer. Across the bridge, we see hundreds of people enjoying a riverside beach.
Arriving at the red brick walls, we walk through a gate and enter the Kremlin. It reminds me of a small city park.
Inside, we meet our first Russian doggie friend!
I think his ears are his best feature.
Following the paths, we walk to a memorial of some sort. I'm not sure what it is for, but they have one of those flames that is never supposed to go out, and dozens of ornate fake flower arrangements are placed everywhere nearby.
There's a wonky Russian church:
…and one playful kitty:
…and one more awesome onion-domed church.
Once we've seen the entire Kremlin, we stroll back to our LRC, where we will shortly have our second encounter with the Russian police…