I love a lot of things. Today especially showcased many of my beloved items and I want to share them with you all.

First off, Happy Birthday Dad! While I am not physically with you to celebrate your special day you get to celebrate for 7 more hours than you normally would because I am celebrating here in Russia!

Second, today is my Grandmother’s Yahrzeit. A Yahrzeit is the anniversary of a loved ones passing. Grandma Joan was the best woman ever, she rocked. She traveled a lot and had a huge appreciation for the arts so Grandma, my exploration in Russia today was in your honor.

Today began with a trip to the Hermitage Museum. This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area. It was the Winter Palace of Catherine the Great and when it was burned down, Alexander The First rebuilt it. When Alex decided to rebuild it he kindly decided to use his own money and did not “borrow” any from the treasury, what a guy. The floors in the Hermitage are my favorite part of Saint Petersburg so far. They are so intricate and stunning with different color wood to make beautiful designs. The other interesting aspect that I showcase below is that the floor design matches the ceiling design in almost all of the major rooms.

For everyone who doesn’t know I enjoy wine. As I am growing my pallet I always need to taste different varietals, years etc. Well, Catherine and her family clearly drank in style and in excess because this below is a wine holder or as I call it a wine trough. For social gatherings they would fill this sucker up with wine and probably have a very good evening. Lets be real, you have to stay warm in Saint Petersburg somehow.

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The Hermitage also holds two original Leonardo da Vinci paintings. These two below are believed to be some of his earlier works and in the painting on the left it showcases him adding landscape through the windows which was rarely ever done back then.

This is a sculpture created by Michaelangelo. Many people are used to his very fine lined and quite chiseled statue of David in Italy, but this one is very different showing a man without defined toes and fingers. Michaelangelo’s patron had recently passed away when he made this for the gravestone and it depicts precisely what he was feeling during this period in his life.

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*Joel, don’t read this section*

One artist back in the day had some very questionable ways of making art and dishes. In his style he took live animals and caste them into a mold and then of course affixed them to the bowl or dish of his choice. This dish below consists of two fish, a large and small snake, a frog and a shrimp. Honestly, I have so many questions to this artist I don’t know where to begin. All I know is that I don’t think anyone would want to use his dishes because there is already food in them..

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Here are some other pictures from the museum. The large thrown room (yes there is a smaller one too), a insanely big gold clock (the clock is tiny and only tells you what hour it is, but the peacock and the scenery makes a serious statement. Oh! Every hour the peacock spreads is feathers),  a really cool column that I found and then finally the grand entry way that makes me want to be a princess and made me feel like I was in Princess Diaries.

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After our marathon in the Hermitage we went to the Kindergarten for our last day of helping out there. We were tasked with making an activity for the children to do. Let me tell you, getting kids attention in English is difficult enough, I am sure you can imagine how difficult getting Russian children to pay attention was.  We had a translator who has been wonderful all week and she helped us a lot. In true American fashion we had the children make American Indian headbands. Alex and I felt very connected with this craft because she is a Cleveland Indians fan and well as everyone knows I bleed maroon and gold for my Redskins. Go Tribes.

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For whatever reason I have been craving hot chocolate ever since I arrived. Maybe because it is warm beverage other than tea and coffee and doesn’t have caffeine in it. I don’t know, but I finally got some tonight with mint and regular marshmallows in it and I was very happy and in love.

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In honor of me missing my first JMU Homecoming as an alum I am celebrating here in Saint Petersburg. First off! purple shirts in a gold room. Tomorrow my Hart School Shirt.

JM(i love)U

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