On one hand, I vividly remembered my mother's sad stories. On the other hand, I was looking forward to enjoying the art and majesty of Imperial Russia. This was a personal conflict that I would experience during my entire visit.
Russians are obsessed with size. If something is big, it's good. If it's oversized, it's better. Buildings in St. Petersburg and Moscow are huge and tend to the baroque. Visually impressive, albeit much the same. One finds oneself longing for something small and private.