Deep under St Petersburg is the palace for the people, the Metro. Mostly pristine and certainly grandiose, only the rolling stock fixes the system in time and place. No moulded plastics, no bright lighting, the carriages are mostly wood lined with a depth of yellow gloss which can be traced back to the Neolithic. Above ground, the western influences are more obvious – girls in too tight, too short skirts, mid-day drunks, too large, too dark sunglasses and McDonalds. Amidst this is the Palace of Excess – The Hermitage – not too much wealth, just too much of everything. Whisked through the heaving crowds by a citizen’s band voice in the head, the guides are intent on promoting everything and examining nothing – a hall full of Rembrandts was dismissed in a brush stroke. The relief comes from looking upwards; away from the throng of heads hang the chandeliers, the bright gilt, the painted ceilings, the glass mirrors infused with gold to give a reflected image a flattering Photoshop Gaussian overlay.