They say St. Petersburg isn't Russia. They say Peter the great succeded, he built himself a truly European city that has little to do with mother bear.
There's evidence to the contrary.
Nevertheless, I decided to take a deeper plunge while I'm here. The city has five major railway stations, gateways to the distance. I chose the Moskovskaya and took a train two and a half hours south east of the city, to a random place called чудово.
This was my first view of my destination:
I began walking and soon realized that this place was hardcore, that it defined hardcore. I've been to worn, post-Communist towns in Slovakia and such during the 90s. They looked better than this.
Here in Chudovo, Lenin still persides over the square and the smelliest polluted river is flowing twixt commie-blocks and ramshackle farmhouses.
There was literally nowhere to have lunch, only scores of tiny grocery stores all offering sausages, bottled kvas, the occasional pickle and not much more. The only sign of gentrification is in the clothes. Grownups and teens are dressed not in a westernized way, but in an conscious manner that strongly contrasts the townscape, children are in bright colors that Vladimir Ilich would have frowned at.
Almost all Chudovoers, regardless of age group, seemed to be in a good smily mood. If there's anything Russia's got to spare, it's character. I swear I'm inspired, but this does not mean that Chudovo is not a shithole. It most certainly is, and this becomes ever more apparent as night draws in.
Yes, you guessed it right. I missed the afternoon train out and had to wait for a nocturnal one. I tried to find the internet, to let my friends in St. Petersburg know I'll be late. No internet. I tried to find an English speaker to help me work out the phone information so I can call them. No English. For a few rare hours, I was outside of globalization. It felt a bit like being dead.