From Flea Market to the Bridge

Natalya made crepes for breakfast. We ate them Russian style – sour cream and melted butter, unfortunately, no caviar. The towels did not seem that small any longer.
Today we went to a flea market at Lisa’s request. This was not a true flea market but rows of stalls selling new cheap merchandise made in China. Off to the side from the main market, several pensioners set up their own third-hand market. They spread out their wares on the blankets right there on the grass. The merchandise was random to say the least. It mostly consisted of thoroughly used clothes and anything else the retirees managed to dig out from the bowels of their closets. The first prize went to a woman selling someone else’s credit card. She suggested we buy it, “stick in some money”, and use it then. Anna bought it to photograph and then cut it into pieces “to restore some kind of normalcy.” The second prize went to a little old man (well, he could have been my age -men don’t age well here in Russia), who was selling a military water-proof coat for 100 rubles (about $3) all the while brandishing a plastic toy gun. We turned down the coat, walked away, but later on Lisa decided to splurge and pay up for the coat so she could take a picture of the little man and his coat. Sadly, when we came back, the coat was sold. But don’t despair, the little man offered to bring us another coat and sell it to us for mere 50 rubles, why he was ready to give it to us a gift. We declined his generous offer and inquired as to where he procured those fine garments. “At a dump, naturally,”- eagerly volunteered the merchant.
He gladly posed for a photo, plastic gun and all, minus the coat.
We then went to the Russian State Museum, briefly surveyed the highlights of Russian art, and since the rain stopped, embarked on a boat cruise along the city’s numerous rivers and canals. We got on the boat on Griboedov Canal and floated past The Church on Spilled Blood, under the lowest bridge in the city (we had to duck – the only time Adam’s hat came off his head), past palaces and grand houses, into the Fontanka, the Moika, and finally into the Neva, and back to Nevsky (all roads lead to Rome, aka Nevsky, and Lisa can attest to this).
Since the God of Rain took a nap, we decided to stay up for the opening of drawbridges, lingered a while at a restaurant on Nevsky (where else?) with a great view of Anichkov Bridge, walked Nevsky to the river, and arrived to the Palace Bridge by 1 AM. We joined other revelers and rejoiced communally when at 1:25 Am the drawbridge finally opened to the cheers of an adoring crowd. We walked back in the twilight but our strength gave out at about 2:30 AM. We tried to hail a taxi but they became nearly extinct in the city, so we had to hitch a ride. The driver, a shady type, the kind I would never get in a car with anywhere else in world, for some reason didn’t scare me here. I guess all this off-hours daylight blurs your common sense.

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