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My first evening in Moscow the group went down to Red Square. It was maybe a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We saw St. Basil's Cathedral -- that's the church that's always in the background when Dan Rather reports from Moscow, Gum -- the mall, and some other touristy sites in the area.

Tuesday night around 11pm we all boarded the train to St. Petersburg. Cindy and I were paired up the entire trip and on the train was no exception. We had a little party in Cindy's and my cabin. It consisted of the inexpensive vodka, rapsberry and mango juices, and some bread and cheese we bought at the grocery store before boarding the train. Someone brought along some Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies -- those were inhaled! I brushed my teeth with vodka instead of water while on the train -- more for the story than out of necessity!

We arrived in St. Petersburg Wednesday morning at 7:55am. We had a bus waiting for us and we went directly to the hotel. We unpacked, showered, ate breakfast and the touring began. Between Wednesday and Saturday we saw a lot of St. Pete: the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, St. Issacs, the Church of the Spilt Blood, Catherine's Palace, the Summer Palace (aka Versailles of the North because of the fantastic fountains), where Rasputin was murdered and more. It was a wonderful trip but exhausting.

On Sunday morning at 6:50am we flew from St. Pete to Moscow. We said our goodbyes there and I boarded my plane to Amsterdam at 10:15am. About noon local time I arrived at Schipol, Amsterdam, got on the train and returned to Leiden. I know it sounds crazy, but I really felt like I'm coming home when I'd get off in Leiden.

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Last updated: October 25, 2001