saturday afternoon...it's 5:15pm... i didn't do much yesterday..except, oh --- visit the Hermitage! they said it would take over nine years of constant walking to see all of the exhibitions. imagine that. i saw several old mosaics, gold-leaf hallways...i wonder how Russia would have done if the Tzars had fed the people instead of spending millions of Rubles to decorate their summer palaces. "it's for show only...for the diplomats of other countries." ah. that's disgusting. no wonder the Revolution began there.

last night we were going to go to a Diskoteka (dance club) but when we all got to our homes and had dinner, no one felt like going back out again. i personally was feeling like crap. i have this terrible cold, and Aleve just doesn't cut it. oh-- and they don't have tissues here. i've been using the card-board toilet paper and napkins i've taken from the cafes. considering it is finally warming up, the cold might go away.

oh---here's some interesting new i forgot to mention yesterday : the city is turning off the hot water in our district from the 5th of june to the 27th. for "testing" purposes. to make sure the hot water will work in january, i suppose. imagine if they told st. louis residents this. what a riot!

the gypsies have arrived. when i walked through a tourist district today (i won't do that again) i saw them everywhere... the women carry babies and ask for money... the men are no where to be seen. it makes me wonder what mischief they are up to. Vladimir Petrovich told me to never look at them and walk quickly by. if they stop me, ignore them. and yell at them in Russian. never English. however, if i am attacked, i must scream loudly in English and the police will come. i've heard that many times the children will surround tourists, and poke them with needles so that they'll let go of their bags/wallets. sounds fun, doesn't it?

if anyone wants to get pictures, let me know. i have been emailling several out to people who've asked. Paka~~