the glory that was Rome
A few minutes before I have to run off & contort myself, so I'll note that I didn't fully appreciate Finnish design until I got to St. Petersburg, where there are some--no, okay, virtually all--of the most beautiful buildings I've EVER EVER seen, and nobody cares at ALL about the appearance of anything that's not at least a couple of hundred years old. We were staying in two large apartments on Millionaire Street (right down the block from the Hermitage), which had clearly been renovated very recently by the "throw a bunch of money at it and stop the effort right there" technique--bare white walls, fancy TVs and fancy VCRs that weren't actually compatible with each other, IKEA-ish furniture randomly thrown into each room, one-of-this-and-one-of-that towels, etc. Not bad taste: no taste in particular at all. Most of the Russian interiors we saw that didn't belong to tourist destinations were at least a little like that; the streets are very much like that. Also, the bulletproof doors had heavy top-and-bottom deadbolts, and could only be locked from the INSIDE as well as from the outside with a somewhat soft brass key. A group of Fellows actually got locked into their apartment for about 15 minutes yesterday morning--they had keys, they just weren't working.
Gotta go do yoga, but when I get back later today, a screed on the scary realization that I actually do belong to an imperial power, like it or not.