Lashed by rain and vexed by an umbrella that kept turning itself inside out, I dashed across the wet cobbles alongside the Griboyedov Canal and ducked into the Resurrection Cathedral on Spilled Blood. This close to the Gulf of Finland, capricious summer storms assailed Saint Petersburg willy-nilly every afternoon, often dumping an inch of precipitation in a slanted torrent before all at once breaking to reveal a sky of the most intense bluebird hue. Dinner was more than two hours away, and my intention had been to spend that time leisurely browsing through Dom Knigi, the House of Books on Nevsky Prospekt. I liked stocking up on exotic editions of Dostoevski, Tolstoy and Chekhov every summer before heading back to the States. Today I had made it halfway there when the heavens opened up, so I sought refuge in this onion dome cathedral along the canal.
A handful of people were milling about in the dim antechamber, some folding up umbrellas and giving them to the coat check babushka, others examining a brochure about the decorative mosaics inside the sanctuary. The Resurrection Cathedral was the most dramatic landmark in Saint Petersburg, a tour de force example of over-the-top architecture in the highly ornate, cupola-bedecked bulbous Russian style.
The dimness of this antechamber mimicked the . . .
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