I think the Greek Gods used me to send a divine message to the God of War during a trip to Russia a long time ago. Only the God of War will truly understand this message, whereas everyone else will probably only be able to speculate.
The message was sent during a Contiki trip to Russia when we stopped at a Russian petrol station for a short time, while travelling from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
A few tour group members were throwing around a frisbee when the frisbee came my way. For my very first throw I wanted to show my strength by doing the biggest throw possible, however when I threw the frisbee, I let it go way too late.
As a result the frisbee flew off in the wrong direction, roughly 45 degrees off from my intended target. The wind probably caught hold of it as well because it flew wildly high above a Russian petrol station roof and that’s where it landed. What the hell? I immediately felt bad about losing someone’s frisbee. Game over everyone.
Soon after that a US Army guy wanted to get his frisbee back. I assume it was his frisbee. Someone came up with the brilliant idea of using our tour bus to climb on top of the petrol station roof. Maybe he did, I’m not sure. Our tour bus driver obliged and parked the bus as close as possible to the petrol station roof.
Once the bus was close enough, the American Army guy jumped onto the roof. I seriously thought someone was going to get arrested because there was a security guard nearby watching us the whole time. This was Russia. You don’t mess with Russians especially on a petrol station roof.
It would have looked very suspicious, especially if he didn’t know what was going on.
Here he is getting ready to heroically retrieve the frisbee. I seriously thought the frisbee was lost forever. The top photo in this post shows him on the roof and yes, he actually did get it off the roof. Wow! I never expected it.
With a chuckle he later asked me if I had meant to do it. In hindsight, I have to admit that this was probably a superhuman throw not of my doing.
Ask yourself this. How many tourists do you know who can say that they have thrown a frisbee onto a Russian petrol station roof, let alone someone possessing Hellenic origins?
Then ask yourself this. How many US military men have managed to retrieve a frisbee off of a Russian petrol service station roof on the very same day? Think about the odds. It has to be a million to one shot at the very least.
To top everything off, our Contiki tour bus driver later crashed the back of the tour bus into a wall with the Kremlin in the background when reversing inside a Moscow carpark.
You can see the Kremlin clocktower in the background. This crash caused a bit of damage to the rear end of the bus as you can see in the photo below.
I’m convinced this bizarre frisbee incident is actually a divine message most likely communicated to the God of War by one of the Greek Gods.
I have my own idea on the meaning of this message. I’ll give it to you at the end of this post. I’m hoping the God of War will be able to make sense of it.
From Russia with Love
Prior to this incident, I captured this very interesting pose in St. Petersburg with a few attractive Russian ladies in front of a white stretch limousine. Funnily enough, guess who’s with them? It’s US Army guy. You will also see more of him later on as well.
The Grand Tour of Russia
Contiki offered a great 21 day tour around Russia and Scandinavia as part of a grand tour. The tour included 7 countries as part of the itinerary which included Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.
This tour ended up being my fifth and final tour with Contiki, with Russia being the star destination. We toured Russia with the theme song “Rasputin” by Bony M playing every so often. It was really mad.
For the Russian section of the tour we stayed 3 nights in St Petersburg, 1 night in Novgorod, 3 nights in Moscow and 1 night in Yartsevo. I felt the tour pace was quite reasonable, but yes, more time would have been great, especially at some of the more interesting places and museums.
The trip agenda that convinced me to go is shown below. Who could have predicted that a message to the God of War would one day be the outcome?
The Freakish Incident
One of the most freakish things that happened to me on this trip, or ever for that matter, occurred when I was reading a book. At the time I was sharing a cabin room with a few other guys in our tour group during a sea voyage crossing. I was reading a book I had recently purchased when the guy in the opposite bunk asked me what book I was reading.
I told him I was reading a book called Freakonomics. His eyes quickly lit up and he enthusiastically told me that he was also reading Freakonomics. We were both reading the same book. How incredible was that? I wonder what the odds are? I didn’t really believe him until he showed me the book.
The mystical part is that the motto of the book is exploring the hidden side of everything. We both cracked up laughing after this unbelievable coincidence.
St. Petersburg has been described as the Paris of the East and Venice of the North. Tsar Peter (Peter the Great) of Russia founded the city in 1703 after he conquered the small Swedish fortress of Nienschanz. Others say he was defending Russian soil from Swedish aggressors.
The historical city centre of St. Petersburg has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Interestingly, the city went by the name Leningrad, from 1924 to 1991. The city’s name only changed to St. Petersburg after a referendum in 1991.
This is the very first photo I took in Russia, at St. Petersburg. It shows Peter the Great on horse on one side and St Isaac’s Cathedral on the other. The Cathedral took approximately forty years to construct in the early 19th century and at the time it was the biggest church in Russia. The weather was pretty gloomy when I was there I have to say.
Top 5 Recommendations of Things to See and Do in St. Petersburg:
1. Peterhof Palace and Gardens
The gardens and fountains of the Tsars’ Summer Palace are impressive, especially the Grand Cascade with the golden statues. The amazing thing about this fountain is that it runs purely on gravity. No pumps required at all. This is genius when you think about it.
Then again maybe there is a secret pump working away somewhere. Look at how high the water is spouting from the lion’s mouth.
Most people think that the golden statue of the strong man opening the jaws of a lion shows biblical Samson killing a lion.
For those in the know, it’s actually Hercules defeating the Nemean lion (one of his twelve labours).
The Grand Cascade is supposed to celebrate Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War, or it could be an attempt at honouring the Greek Gods.
One of the golden statues shows Perseus holding up Medusa’s head, which is straight from Greek mythology.
Hermes is also on the stairway to heaven. Aphrodite is there as well. It just goes to show that if the muscly figure with the lion was truly representing Samson, then they’ve put the Greek Gods on a higher pedestal for some bizarre reason. No sign of Jesus Christ anywhere.
In the lower Grotto of the Great Cascade you’ll find golden statues of Pan and Olympus, as well as Cupid and Psyche. Tritons and Sirens are also seen in the Grand Cascade.
The Peterhof gardens seemed to go on forever when I was walking around the place.
You can never be sure where you’ll end up.
There are fountains everywhere.
Here’s the impressive Triton fountain.
The Neptune (Poseidon) fountain shows the God of the sea in the middle of a lake holding his three-pronged trident.
Apollo is located at an honourable position in the upper gardens facing Poseidon (Neptune).
Somehow I missed out on seeing Apollo and Poseidon (Neptune). I didn’t even know that a bigger more beautiful garden existed on the other side of the palace. I only visited one side of the palace.
You really do need a whole day at the Peterhof, especially if you’re planning to wander through the palace rooms. A seperate ticket is required to enter the palace. The Hercules room sounds very interesting. Note: It’s known as the Hercules room, not Samson room.
The best way to get to the Peterhof is by Hydrofoil/boat from St. Petersburg. Spend the whole day at Peterhof if possible. Bus tour groups rush by way too fast. We didn’t even go inside. We spent very little time exploring this great place. Spending 4 or 5 hours here would have been fantastic.
The chessboard below probably represents a game no body knows who’ll win. Is it the dragons versus the Greek Gods? Dragons let water flow down the chessboard. When I stumbled upon this feature, I immediately thought about the Greek Gods.
Another beauty is the Golden Mountain Cascade which in this case is surrounded by Greek Gods and Goddesses. The cascade received its name due to the gilded rises. Neptune (Poseidon) is seen top centre. Next to him is a Triton and a Nymph.
Venus (Aphrodite) and a winged Cupid (Eros) can be seen on the right hand side at the very front. I sadly can’t remember seeing this fountain when I was there.
I still can’t believe that Apollo and Poseidon were on the other side of the Peterhof Palace building. I feel like a total fool. So close yet so far. This is the kind of thing that happens when you go in blind.
2. The Hermitage (The Winter Palace)
The Tsars’ Winter Palace has been integrated into the Hermitage making it one of the world’s biggest museums. It’s famous for its collection of Faberge porcelain eggs. There are also numerous masterpieces located inside the Winter Palace including Rembrandt’s Danae.
The War Gallery of 1812 has a huge number of portraits on both sides of the hallway room.
Guess who we have here? It’s US army guy and more heads of war inside the Hermitage War room. This gallery with red walls (signifying blood loss) was built to honour Russia’s victory over Napoleon.
I wonder whether anyone has come to the conclusion that war is hell.
When walking around the Hermitage keep an eye out for the one-eyed cyclops.
Antonio Canova’s Psyche revived by Cupid’s kiss is a must see sculpture.
A copy of an ancient floor mosaic can be seen on the floor in the Pavilion Hall. It shows Medusa surrounded by mythological themes. Neptune (Poseidon) is seen with his trident, as well as other mythological sea creatures and centaurs (half man/half horse).
Who could ever believe in the existence of the half man/half horse unless it was preserved in art for all non-believers to see?
The peacock clock is very special. To see it in operation may require a bit of luck in real life (I missed out), but I’ve provided an interesting link for anyone wanting to see Catherine the Great’s amazing Peacock clock in action on youtube. The story behind it is also very fascinating. It is made up of three life sized mechanical birds. The peacock symbolises Hera and the owl must symbolise Athena. It’s too much of a coincidence not to be.
In Greek mythology, Alectryon was a young soldier assigned by Ares to stand outside the door as a guard, while the War God indulged in an illicit love with Aphrodite. After being busted, Ares decided to punish Alectryon by turning him into a rooster.
That’s why the cock (rooster) can’t help but announce the arrival of the sun in the morning by crowing loudly. This is probably why the cock, the third bird in this incredible clock is there as well. Receiving this mechanical marvel as a gift must have astonished Catherine the Great and everyone else lucky enough to have seen it at that time.
Ten enormous large figures, the Atlantes from the mythical island of Atlantis, hold up the roof of the portico entrance to the New Hermitage.
The Greek Gods and Goddesses are everywhere at the Hermitage. Here are a few more artworks for everyone interested in Greek mythology to keep an eye out for:
- The Three Graces by Canova (left)
- Zeus and Nike (middle)
- Pygmalion & Galatea (right)
Don’t forget about the many Greek mythology paintings inside the Hermitage.
The Russians love their Greek mythology.
3. Russian Dancing
Russian Ballet Show
Russian Cultural Dance Show
Take a closer look at the above photo. A dancer in a red shirt is seen very close to the floor spinning around super fast, that he’s almost a blur.
Here’s a Russian Cultural Dancing Folk Show YouTube video to watch.
4. Boat ride around the canals and waterways
Here we are cruising through the canals and waterways that make up the great city of Saint Petersburg. Our Contiki tour guide is the guy in the red and the guy in blue is the Contiki tour bus driver/chaperone.
The Cathedral of Spilled Blood can be seen in the distance. Lots of spilled blood in Russia, so it is aptly named.
5. Rostral Columns
Two eye-catching reddish columns stand on the Strelka (“spit”) of Vasilyevsky Island. These rostral columns were a type of victory column, which originated in ancient Greece and Rome where they were erected to commemorate a naval military victory.
Saint Petersburg’s rostral columns have mythical figures representing Russia’s four major rivers at the base. The shafts of these type of columns were traditionally decorated with prows or the beak of enemy ships. This is how the word rostral came about, since the Latin for prow is rostra. In this case the prows attached to the columns are models.
The rostral columns are a famous landmark in St. Petersburg. They even appear on a Russian bank note. These imposing columns are even more impressive on major public holidays and celebrations, when the torches are lit on top.
The central building in the above photo is St. Petersburg’s old Stock Exchange. The building was inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum.
On the main portico you’ll see a statue of Neptune with two rivers (the Neva and the Volkhov).
The opposite side of the Stock Exchange building has the sculptural group “Navigation with Mercury (Hermes) and two rivers”.
This majestic spot is located on the spit of Vasilyevsky Island in St. Petersburg.
Message to the God of War…
The statue of Vladimir Lenin seen below shows the former Communist leader holding out a cap. Incredibly this statue is a whopping 16 metres high.
The mind boggling thing to me anyway is the huge number of Lenin statues around the world. There are loads and loads of different Lenin statues of all shapes and sizes out there on planet earth. Some of them are even bigger than this ginormous statue. How bizarre? This Communist leader is bigger and more popular than the Greek Gods.
I took 4 photos of this Lenin statue just before the frisbee incident. It seems connected.
In St. Petersburg, I came across the ship shown below. I could see two Navy personnel standing side by side, just below the tip of the cannon. They looked friendly.
I found out the war ship’s name was “Aurora”. In Greco-Roman mythology, Aurora (Eros) is the bringer of the early light (dawn).
The Russian protected cruiser (moored in St. Petersburg) was launched in 1900, and ended up becoming a majestic museum ship. Someone had the bright idea to turn “Aurora” into a museum. I wonder who thought of that one?
Now, for the important message to the God of War. My own interpretation. Drum beat …
~ Make Love, Not War ~
The above photo was taken at the Berlin Wall in Germany at the end of our awesome Contiki tour. I’m the one in the red singlet next to the US Army guy (Russian frisbee guy).
This is why the post is called “From Russia with Love: Message to the God of War“. As you can see we’re standing right in front of the word LOVE.
Was this all just some sort of coincidence? I don’t think so. I wonder how the God of War would interpret this post.
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For more insight into Russia, see my post on the 10 Best Things To Do in Moscow. In this post you’ll find out what happened when I was interrogated by a genuine Russian spy.
If you share this around, hopefully the God of War and his followers will get the message one day.