Moscow to Saint Petersburg (and the world's largest art museum)

I took an overnight train, leaving Moscow at one in the morning and arriving today in Saint Petersburg about half past eight, just in time for a Russian breakfast of terrible coffee. The Moscow to Saint Petersburg train was noticeably more comfortable than its Trans-Siberian counterparts (officially the westward Trans-Siberian ends in Moscow) but because of my hacking cough I slept no more than two hours. A young Russian girl on the train shook me awake in the middle of the night to give me some hot tea with honey and lemon. I've been coughing for nearly three weeks straight.

While inhaling my terrible Russian coffee I noticed a young girl, probably seven or eight years old, enjoying her breakfast: candy cigarettes. Smoking really is the national pastime of Russia, the secondhand smoke of which explains my constant hacking cough. I visited the АПТЕКА (pharmacy) with a note in Russian that said something along the lines of, "I've had a terrible cough for weeks. Please give me your strongest cough syrup." Russian cough syrup tastes better than American cough syrup (anise/vanilla but without the medicinal aftertaste) and works as well or better.

After breakfast but before cough syrup, I visited the State Hermitage (Государственный Эрмитаж). The Hermitage Museum is the world's largest art museum and must also rival in popularity. I waited in line for two and a half hours; granted, it was Sunday but it was also below zero and snowing heavily. Say what you will about Russians, but they appreciate and support the arts more than any other culture I have experienced: museums, theatre, dance, smoking as art form, etc.

There was even smoking inside the Hermitage. Yeah, it was hidden in the bathrooms but still close enough where you can smell it by the artwork: Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, da Vinci, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, apparently none of whom are worthy of stepping outside to light up.