CappuccinoandArtJournal

Mostly postal but art and other things of interest too.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From Russia with Love

St. Petersburg Main Post Office

I don't think it was a coincidence that our hotel was just  about one and half blocks from the Main PO in St. Petersburg.
And get this -- the post offices in Russia are open SEVEN days a week and twenty-four hours a day.
Take THAT-- USPS!

I could go in the middle of the night!

Take a peek....looks promising.

Like many of the buildings in St Petersburg, the post office was vast and  quite busy too.
I was particularly partial to the green walls. And the wooden trim.

You can sit on a nice wooden bench to wait for your turn...

People were filling out forms and writing letters and mailing parcels and buying phone cards....and some people were walking around taking lots of photos and picking up as many free postal forms as she possibly could.....just sayin".......


They had a really nice display of stamps, first day covers and envelopes.


Love those blue post boxes!

See the guard sitting there on the left? He gave me carte blanche to photograph. Can you believe it?
I have been kicked out of so many PO's for taking photos and in Russian the guard said
"no problem".
And next to him is a door where all the stamp collectors hang out and buy stamps...I mustered up my courage and walked up to the woman working there and handed her my little "Postal Love" zine and the request to buy stamps all printed out thanks to Google-translate...

and it worked!
She helped me pick out some real beauties using a lot of sign language and now I am the proud owner of some great Russian postage stamps.

After the PO, my intrepid husband took me on the subway to a flea market. And a very out-of-the-way flea market I assure you...absolutely NO tourists to be seen...

After the subway we walked some streets, saw some delightful street vendors selling  food and I might have torn off off a bunch of those ads on that pole in Cyrillic....my travel journal needed to be filled....

It is kind of fun not being able to read anything...I loved the way the writing looked.

It rained the night before and the ground was muddy and it was freezing cold -- about 30 degrees.
Really not the most pleasant conditions to be at the flea market but it was worth it!


Too bad I couldn't fit this old typewriter in my suitcase....you don't see too many typers with Cyrillic  keys here in San Francisco...

Look at those keys!

After all that we needed a nice hot bowl of borscht and some pickled cabbage and beets to warm us up...you would too if you had been outside freezing to death. And getting a little over-excited. (hence, the glass of wine)
Russian Ephemera
You might be over-excited too if you found all this paper ephemera -- photos, identity cards,
homework.....


                                        Envelopes with letters inside (too bad I can't read them)

Packs of old currency
(that is going to be fun to collage with!)

Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with all the ephemera, stamps, postal forms etc I picked up....
Any ideas? I am thinking of little booklets using the postal forms and Postal ATC's for each country I visited.
I am slowly catching up on my out-going mail. It hasn't been a great incoming week for me but I am hoping things improve soon.
SEND GOOD MAIL -- GET GOOD MAIL

32 comments:

  1. I am in awe, Pamela! You are so intrepid to bring your translated request for stamps to the Russian PO. And that guard giving you permission to take photos!! Regarding your ephemera, I would be tempted to frame some of it just to look at. But I know that you bought it to collage with. Do you ever scan things so that you have digital surrogates?

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    1. Thanks, Carter! I thought using google translate was clever. I used it in four countries and it worked every time with varying degrees of success. I rarely scan things because I like the originals but I did do a little scanning this time.....

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  2. my mouth is hanging open in wonder. that post office is part museum, part train station. amazing. so lucky for all of us that you were allowed to take pictures. and OH that ephemera. wow-wow-wow-wow-wow. I'm beginning to understand the overstuffed suitcase dilemma. must have been painful to leave that typewriter behind.

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    1. Karen....about the suitcase...yeah...that was just the first country too....and paper is heavy...

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  3. Ooh, you sure know how to build up to a crescendo!! I was already excited at lunchtime too, but those last 5 pics, wowza! Just diviiine, you must've done a little jig when you got your paws on them!!!?

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    1. vizma--oh yeah.....I was doing a little jig...in my mind anyway...trying not to let the sellers know how much I wanted things....and bargaining with rubles written on scraps of paper and being passed back and forth...it was an adventure.

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  4. Woweee, what a FABULOUS trip! Oh man, I would love to be in your shoes!

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    1. shams....I have always loved to travel....save all my pennies to do.....it was a really interesting trip.

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  5. Love all the photos and commentary...

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    1. I'm so glad you are enjoying it.....thanks for commenting, dotsrainbow!

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  6. Wow, look at all that to-die-for ephemera!!

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    1. Thanks, Connie -- now I need to figure out what to do with it!

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  7. Ms. PG -- What a marvelous post & photos! And POs open all night? That's my kind of service! Can't wait to see your transformations with all these beautiful things. xo --s

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    1. sallyw3000 -- yes, the PO's are open all night -- 24/7 -- can you imagine? How could we sleep?

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  8. Extremely cool ephemera. The flea market pics didn't look real promising to me but obviously there was some good stuff! And the inside of the PO is great. Such character, unlike most of our uber-efficient-but-zero-personality POs here. What a great trip.

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    1. Leslie--well, with the good stuff at the flea market I was too busy bargaining on slips of paper to take photos....plus I was trying not to look too interested....it actually was a very humble market with people seeming to be selling off their old clothes, etc but I was very happy to find the paper ephemera....

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  9. Wow, just wow! I LOVE this post!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! Really appreciate the comment.

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  10. Wow! The post office is really interesting! I love that they have the stamps and first day covers on display. The architecture is great, too!

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    1. Thanks, Mary -- it was a really good PO to walk around in and just observe.

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  11. Funny you should show that typewriter... I just saw one at a local Goodwill.... and I'm I Upstate NY!!!! I almost bought it but wasn't sure what I'd do with it.

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    1. Emie58 -- that IS funny -- and you're right -- what would you do with it? But if it wasn't too expensive I probably would have bought it....

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  12. AWESOME!! Thanks for sharing with us!!

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    1. Why, thank you, tammy -- thanks for stopping by the blog & commenting.

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  13. What a wonderful travelogue. The only travel journal I ever made and thought was cool was the one I made for Russia. Photos from a little dispoable camera. I was afriad to take a real one. Scaredy cat child of the cold war!

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    1. Funny! I actually like fooling around with disposable cameras. I was a bit nervous about going because I read in a number of places (including in Russia) the Police are know to stop tourists and natives alike and demand ID and some money under-the-table -- but we had absolutely no problems at all and the people were friendly, kind and helpful. I'd like to see the journal you made on your trip. Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Many thanks for interesting story with illustrations !

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  15. I've heard so many stories about Russia that I can't believe they allowed you to take pictures inside the post office. It would be impossible in Spain, and I don't dare to ask in Morocco! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hawwa -- I was amazed I was allowed to too. And I was allowed in Poland (coming up soon) but not Hungary or the Czech Republic! I hope to go to Spain and Morocco next so that news makes me cranky!

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  16. Oh how fun to see a Russian typewriter again! My great-grandfather (who died when I was 10 but lived to be 103 years old!) had one (probably brought over from Russia by his father when he came to America) and I used to type on it when I was a child. I hadn't thought of that for ages til I saw your photo! I have traveled in Czech Republic and I remember those orange postal boxes! And the graffiti and urban decay there! Amazing. I will have to dig up some of my photos and look at them again -- you have inspired me! Glad you had such a great trip!

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  17. Thanks Rhonda H -- so cool that the Russian typewriter brought back some good memories for you. 103? You have some good genes. Yeah -- take out your Czech photos and have a fun walk down memory lane. I love how travel jus keeps on giving....

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