When I was reading "Crime and Punishment" the image of this place and its neighborhood kept coming back to me; I had been advised by the guide that it's similar to the neighborhood in which Raskolnikov lived. It was great to experience the actual living quarters of Dostoevsky, to imagine him, as the guide said, at that desk writing throughout the night, rolling cigarette after cigarette, occasionally taking up notes that his young daughters slipped under the door. It really put Dostoevsky into a tangible setting for me. It's off the beaten path, which is a great reason to go, if nothing else: it gives you a destination that takes you through everyday St. Petersburg neighborhoods, the courtyards, the shops, etc., which you won't see if you stick to the Hermitage and environs.
I've been here twice. The first time I hired a guide who worked at the museum. The second time there were two young ladies, students, outside at the front door, and one of them wanted to know if I would allow her to give me a guided tour (free) so she could work on her English. I had nothing to lose, I'd already had the "official" tour, so I agreed. It was entertaining to check her information against my earlier tour, moreso when the ladies who work at the museum would chime in every now and again to correct her. The experience was fun for me, maybe a bit trying for her, but ultimately rewarding for both of us.
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