April 29th, 2020
Thanks to Disney’s Anastasia I’ve always been drawn to St. Petersburg and I recently had the opportunity to go. I didn’t get a chance to see the famous St. Petersburg Ballet, Swan Lake, or visit all the famous monuments, but I managed to ‘get cultured‘ in my own little way, simply by talking to a local at a souvenir store…
Overwhelmed by hundreds of Russian dolls in all colours, shapes and sizes, I managed to find something unique that visitors most likely tend to overlook. At the checkout counter, hidden between ballerina ornaments, cranberry candy and yes, you guessed it, more Russian dolls, was a small container filled with tiny brass coloured spoons and coins.
A sucker for underdogs, I was intrigued. I could tell that not many visitors ask about these, as the sales lady seemed very excited to share their stories with me.
In Russia it is believed that these charms bring luck and wealth. The spoon symbolizes a shovel which is used to dig money. I asked a Russian friend to translate a phrase on the packaging: “Who becomes friends with it will know no sorrow. Luck, money and happiness will gather.” You’re supposed to keep it in your wallet: where there’s money the spoon will always provide more money.
Moving on to the mouse coin, I asked my friend to translate for me again: “If the mouse lives in the house, money stays in the house”. This has similar meaning to that of the spoon, but the story of the mouse coin has a little more to it…
It relates to a legend about a mouse that disturbed the sleep of a Russian Knyaz (prince). Irritated at first, his anger subsided once he realized that he was about to be attacked by a venomous snake. The mouse saved his life and in honour of this event the prince named the town Myshkin, derived from the Russian word Mysh, meaning Mouse.
I did some research and as legend has it, Myshkin exists a couple hundred miles North of Moscow. It’s unclear whether this was really is how the town got its name, but ironically it is home to one of the most famous Mouse Museums in the world.
From what I could gather, you can reach Myshkin by a boat river cruise – I’m already excited! If ornaments of rodents are not your thing, there seems to be a variety of other attractions, one being the Smirnoff Museum of Vodka where apparently you get a free shot – need I say more?
Places with quirky names such as ‘Mouse Inn’, ‘Mousetrap Restaurant‘ and ‘Kitty House’ are enough to spark my curiosity. I would love to visit Myshkin one day, but definitely in summer!
There you have it, folks: A bucket list travel destination straight out of a souvenir store!
Later that day I paid a visit to the State Hermitage Museum, second largest art and culture museum in the world, where I lost my ticket on the way to the entrance and someone handed it to the information desk. I guess my lucky charms worked!
If there’s one thing that travel has taught me it’s that the most ordinary experiences can sometimes add the greatest value to a trip. We all travel for different reasons, but to make sure you get the most out of it, it’s good to know what makes you tick.
In my case, it’s the small things: Mouse tales > Monuments
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