I can't believe we're almost in November.
It's going to be time to put up the Christmas tree soon :)
This year has gone incredibly quick. But happily, it's been a year filled with a lot of platetrotting. So as it begins to wind down, I thought a series of posts on some of the highlights, strange sights and memorable bites would be a good way to pay tribute to 2013.
Starting off with my first trip for the year - St. Petersburg and my visit to the Russian Vodka Museum.
The Russian Vodka Museum held a lot of promise when I was in trip-planning mode. It was probably one of the first things that went down on my list of "Things to Do in St.P" (after the Hermitage and seeing snow fall out of the sky - both of which were also ticked off the list on that trip).
I was hoping this would be the place I'd actually learn something about vodka - considering that the most I knew about the drink could be summed up in three lines - it's made from grain or potatoes, it tastes best super-chilled and good vodka will leave you virtually hang-over free. (Oh, and the best vodka I ever drank was bought in Azerbaijan for 8 dirhams, so good vodka need not be expensive vodka.)
Sadly, my lesson in vodka making wasn't meant to be. The museum had just one bilingual guide and unfortunately said guide was busy delivering what sounded like a very informative lecture on vodka-making in Russian to another group during my visit.
So I had to make do with wandering around admiring the raw ingredients used to make vodka (labelled in Russian), equipment used to make vodka (all explained in Russian), posters depicting rather young drinkers (see below) and a beautiful collection of intricately-made bottle stoppers.
The self-guided tour ended with a tasting of three kinds of vodka - a softly flavoured vanilla vodka, a clean-tasting platinum vodka and a very crisp gold vodka, accompanied by herrings, pumpernickel bread and pickles.
However, despite the rather disappointing non-tour, the museum had a sizeable collection of interesting vodka bottles, including bottles nestled in slightly kitsch matryoshka dolls, and - the exhibit that made my visit - a Kalashnikov filled with vodka. Now, you can't get more Russian than that!
If you plan on visiting the museum, do check out the adjoining restaurant, The Russian Vodka Room No 1. It had the best plate of herrings I've probably ever eaten.
And if you do fancy the tour, remember to book ahead. Unless you speak Russian!
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