st. petersburg was wonderful. When I was fourteen I bought this camera off of ebay that came from st. petersburg; it was the LOMO LC-A, and the package came wrapped in brown paper, tied in twine. When I opened it up and picked up the camera, I very vividly remember holding it to my face and inhaling the smell, and there was this dusty, musky, not altogether unpleasant smell. It's still there. As a joke I had thought, "this is what Russia smells like!" But to my utter surprise, walking down the street in St. P, I could catch whiffs of that same smell here and there, next to an elevator, some street corner, and so on.
Right now I'm in Moscow, right next to the Kremlin, looking at St. Basil's cathedral, sitting somewhere and having breakfast. My train got in today at 6:30, and until now I've been checking my baggage in at a train station, as I'm staying at some place a little too south of the city center to lug everything around. I've found this girl, Nadia, on couchsurfing to host me, and so I'll head there later tonight, bring a bottle of wine maybe, eat dinner, say hi and talk to her about her life, what she does, sleep on a couch on the outer edges of a city.
I've made so many friends so far; too many, I almost thought at some point, because I realize how much I like wandering alone, navigating these cities. Walking around I do this thing where every word I see I subvocalize and try to pronounce out loud, roll the syllables in my mouth, swallow it down like the second sip of coffee in the morning: the first one's a test sip, the second one more joyful and thankful..
But yes, friends seem to come everywhere, and I am thankful for that, and joyful for that. I met someone on the plane, and his girlfriend offered to let me stay at their place (which I couldn't; I didn't have time), I met a small friendly trio from russia/germany/thai and we may see each other here in Moscow; I might meet a few people in Mongolia again; I walked around for hours with this guy from St. P, talking about Russian lit..
So far, it's been wonderful.