I know many have been puzzled by my silence. The answer is that I haven't been able to sign in to my blog but a suggestion from "she-who-can't-be-named" has done the trick. Later I will explain what happened but for now it is time to catch up and get down to taxi business. I can tell you that I took a cab last night with the greatest guy, a 27 year veteran of the Saint Petersburg roads currently driving an eight-year old Russian Volga. Today he is taking a break and going fishing. On his smart phone mounted on the dashboard he showed me at least 20 photos of recent catches. I really liked this cabbie. The fare was 600 rubles. I tipped him 200 rubles. Like too many Russians he smokes cigarettes, the American brand Kent his tobacco poison of choice. As always, our taxi experience are similar but, reported by him, the local police appear to be nicer to their cabbies. Glad to hear it!
I arrived Paris September 8th, after a three-hour layover in Dubai. September 10th I flew Air Baltic to Tallinn, Estonia. On Wednesday I took a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki. Later that day I boarded a ship for Saint Petersburg for a three-day Visa-free stay which if why I am leaving later today at 7:00 PM, boarding that same Saint Peter Line ship, the "Princess Maria" for my return journey back to Helsinki, arriving Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, a day that so happens to be my ex-wife's birthday. After 2-3 days in Finland I return to Tallinn, and from there, take a bus to Riga, Latvia. Hopefully from Riga I will again be able to log-on and report further developments. There is much Seattle-related taxi news to report and, providing I have a number of uninterrupted hours, I will tell everyone about the good and bad and the plainly stupid.
The entire point of this current European adventure (my 12th trip to Europe) was to see the great art museums residing here in Saint Petersburg. Thursday I visited the "Russian Museum," home to 20th Century and some 21st Century Russian artwork. Amazing, brothers and sisters, amazing!
And if possible, and believe me it is, that body of insanely good painting was surpassed by what appears to be the greatest collection of paintings and assorted artwork ever assembled in one place, that museum being the Hermitage. I do not say this lightly, because I have visited the majority of the world's great art museums, be it in France and Spain and Holland and Belgium and Ireland and England and Mexico and Austria; in my home country, Chicago and NYC and San Francisco and Kansas City and Toledo, Ohio---but I have never experienced a more mind-blowing six plus hours. Who needs LSD when you have 24 Rembrandt's staring right back at you?
Suffice to say, I will be back when I have a couple weeks to concentrate on what the collected museums in Saint Petersburg have to offer. My title comes from the only American painting I encountered, an early 19th Century painting by Benjamin West. On my 10th birthday, my sister Mary, 13 years my senior, gave me, instead of my requested toy machine gun, a comprehensive history of art. In that book, which I still have, is a color plate of a Benjamin West painting, though not the one I saw yesterday. Oddly, the West painting was hung with a large group of British painters. Do you think I am the only one who noticed? Thanks to my sister way back in 1963, I believe I am.
Again, my apologies for the delay in my weekly missives to you, my taxi public. All I can will say is that my name is not "Jason Anderson" which is why I haven't been able to access my own blog. More later on that. First I have a couple Baltic Sea crossings to make and hopefully a scenic ride to Riga.