We are currently sailing from St. Petersburg, Russia to Helsinki, Finland. It is 12:00 in the evening and I am on a floating hot bed of social activity. The show just let out, A Singing and Dancing Salute to American Pop and the ship is abuzz with partiers mingling in a collage of languages, and spilling into the Coffee @ com Internet cafe where I sit typing this blog.

The man occupying the computer across from me keeps tapping the table assertively, throwing his hands up in disgust, nodding adamantly and emitting guttural noises. He is either a) day trading b) engaged in an instant message dispute or c) downloading porn. Wait, he just chuckled aloud and gestured wildly as if to grab my attention. The answer is d) ordering online for a drink to be sent over to me.

I confess that I am happy to be leaving Russia. St. Petersburg, although stunning in spots is also sad and dreary in many ways. We saw magnificent palaces, museums and churches, along with worn, neglected neighborhoods, sour people, and despair.

Russian history is fascinating. It was very dangerous to be a member of the royal family. Most stories tell of how happy and productive some Tsar was until he was murdered. For the Tsarinas, the fate is slightly less harsh. They get sent to a nunnery.

Today we saw the palace where Rasputin was enjoying a lovely meal until he was murdered. This was interesting to me for two reasons. 1) I've read a lot about Russian history and 2) I learned that if someone does not let you into the main house, but only brings you down to the basement, don't eat the snacks. Rasputin, The Mad Monk, was poisoned and then shot and then shot again and then shoved into a river and any one of those things can ruin a dinner party.

The man accross from me is laughing again and attempting to make eye contact. I can see his screen name from here, so I'm going to close now so that I can I.M. him my room number... Hold on... more wild gesturing, a lean back in the chair and a loud Hmmmpphh. I'll save him for Laura.