Shit, I'm so slow at keeping up with my travels... here's the St Petersburg highlight. I'd encourage you to read to the end, where a timeline is the only way to describe the debacle we went through.
Here is Kazan Cathedral, one of the first sites we stumbled upon (it was beside the ticketing place). This picture almost does justice to the grandness of the place. The little park in the middle of it was popular with couples and families... even at 10pm or so.
The Church on Spilled Blood is built on the site where one of the Alexanders was assassinated. It's a short walk from Kazan and is a fascinating building to walk around of. Every angle provides a new perspective to the colors and architecture.
There's also the Little Bird Statue that was so small that legend has it if you can throw a coin and it lands on the platform, it is good luck. Keep in mind that the LBS was suspended over one of the many canals of St Petersburg. So a lot of coins where thrown and missed and ended up in the river. The first night, we saw two people working very efficiently to drop down to the water and grab the coins.
Day 2 of St Petersburg brought us to the Winter Palace, where the Hermitage was housed. The Hermitage is a museum that rivals the Lourve and MET in terms of collection. They weren't exaggerating. The collection is awesome even though the venue is not. The Winter Palace wasn't really designed to house paintings and sculptures. Often you would find the sunlight glare from the picture. Anyway, it's a very worthwhile museum. This picture is the outside of Winter Palace.
On our way back, we also passed by the Brown Horseman (statue of Peter the Great - he who built the city) and St. Isaac Cathedral, both magnificent structures. We also saw a pet bear frolicking in a pool in front of the Admiralty, former Russian Navy headquarters. Though none of this beat the SCUBA DIVER who was fetching coins under the Little Bird Statue. This man puts the other tandem to shame.
Day 3 we visited the Summer Palace, which was exactly like the Winter Palace but with more space and therefore allowing a Grand Cascade of fountains like this one:
Yet all this cannot beat the true highlight of the trip, which was the hostels' battle (war?) with BaBITCHka. A bit of background: our hostel is situated in a residential building and the administrator there warned us about an "ill neighbor." BaBITCHka is that neighbor. She gave us a staredown as we exited the hostel one day. We did not realize that she was sizing us up for future battles (the following actually happened... at night):
1100: got back to the hostel to rest a bit and then head out
1130: 1st vodka shot
1135: 2nd vodka shot
1200: 3rd vodka shot
1230: we finally head out with Koreans who speak Russian. BaBITCHka meets us at the front door and says "THIS IS PLIVATE RESIDENCE. WHY YOU CRY!?" We try to ignore her.
130: at a random bar to get cheap beer
200: JM and I (BSLW and EK went elsewhere) at Revolution, a club that has more space than people
330: at another random bar, getting hammered
430: time for old man (i.e. me and JM) to head back to hostel
515: BaBITCHka tells us to use the backdoor (JUST OPEN THE DOOR FOR US!)
518: Our keys don't have access to the backdoor
520: Bumped into Russian speaking Korean. BaBITCHka tells us to use the backdoor
522: Our keys don't have access to the backdoor
525: BaBITCHka opens the FRONT door, leads us to the backdoor, and lets us in
530: The backdoor of the hostel is locked. Banged door to no avail.
535: Engaged in stare down with BaBITCHka
540: BaBITCHka let's us in the front door finally!!!!!
543: Wait... where the hell is EK and BSLW!? They aren't even in the room! BaBITCHka must have deterred them (and they were... EK came back at 830, BSLW at 1030)
And that, my friends, is how welcome I felt in most places in Russia. St. Petersburg is still great though! I'd sad that we didn't have a few more days there.