Gold Fountains !!!

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End May 22, 2009

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Flag of Russian Federation  , North-West Russia,
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

   Hi Everyone,

        Today is my last day in St. Petersburg, so I am doing the last, but the best of the excursions,  Petrodvorts or Peterhof. This is a small town 19 km to the west  of St. Petersburg build in the 1700s so that Peter the Great can oversee the construction of the military fort on an island in the Gulf of Finland.  The Palace and the garden here is just spectacular. But the center piece here is the water fountain and statues amongst them. Every statue is covered in Shiney Gold, under the sun the sparkles of gold figures just blows me away. I started the day by taking a luxury hydrofoil from St. Petersburg to Peterhof then walk around the the water fountains.  I then entered the spectacular Grand Palace. back inthe 1800s the Palace reached its peak with maximum luxury interior, furnitures, paintings and fine dining room plus reception areas.  However, during WWII, the Soviets closed this placeremoving all the valuables inland to prevent the advancing Germans from holding their victory new year party inside the palace. the rest of the palace was badly damaged by the German planes, and it is not until the 1960 to 1970 the restoration started and now it is back to its former glory.  The rooms are full gold plated statues, carvings and every room is loaded with the artifacts from the 1800 and 1700s now back from the storage boxes. I got sneaky and started tagging along a loud speaking English tour guide and kind of listened in about the history of the room. Being alone is kind of hard to get English guide last minutes so since she talks so loud..... thanks....  
         After touring the palace, i have some time left to see the lower garden which is just huge. Imagine the size the Huntington Library, it is 5 to 6 time of size of that.  There are small museums scattered all over the massive park. Their admission is 6 dollars per entry, with 5 to 6 of these things adds up rather quickly.  Too bad I didnt have enough time or money to spend in these minor museum, just walking from one to another is an workout.
         I have to say the most intersting thing in the park has to be the the trick fountains. When people walk across them, or step on them, the water will squirt, get the victim all wet.  I couldnt stopp laughing at this one girl who was posing one minute inside the fountain and next minute got sprayed from all directions with no place to go. I did take some photos.....  The other trick fountain spray water at people as they walked across.

         Since now I have my bus to catch at 6pm, I must get going.....

         Couple interesting observations here in Russia, what is up with all these Sushi bars,  they are literally everywhere, more so than in LA.  Also getting around in Russia is very difficult without fluent Russian. No one, even at the airport, bus, train station knows any English. When I ask them, do you understand English politely in Russian, they automatically says no and respond in Russian.  My few Russian words and knowing the Cryillic alphabets did get me a long way.  Also Russian love soming while walking on sidewalks or gather outside bars and puff cigarettes. Even while waiting in line for the museums, people start smoking.  I bet Philip Morris will make MAJOR profit if they found this Golden market, forget about all that Surgeon Generals warning, smoking up.
          I took me 2 and half hours before the Euroline bus arrives at the Russian Estonian border. Now the drama starts. The female border guard started looking at tmy passport as if I am crazy with 20 million countries and stamps all over, she even try to tear my passort apart trying to look for something......Anyways she didnt but she asked me to wait on the side until the other guard arrives. Luckly the male gurad speaks English, he wants more documents....what...I dont get it....... the I showed him my itinary that I am not lingering here as some illegals, I even showed him my plane ticket getting back to Moscow that is when he let me go....he then asked why is my Russian Visa issued in San Francisco while i live in LA.... i told him that is what the company In LA did for me.  Very odd indeed, but I am lucky that he let me pass with out sending back into Russian...what a relief.

           Then its time for Estonian border, not any easier. The Estonian gurad came aboard the bus and took everyones passport. He even asked for travel insurance.. I guess health insurance is free for all in  Estonia like most social medicine countries so they make sure we do not take advantage of their system.

           The border is a beautiful river with 2 castles overlooking at each other. After that , it was a SMOOTH ride into Tallin. I do mean smooth, because the Russian roads are so full of pothole that I am developing this major carsickness, luckly I didnt puke..
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davekcent on

Crossing borders is fun
That's the best part of the journey!

andrewy on

Re: Crossing borders is fun
It is interesting, crossing border between Estonia and Latvia is essentailly nonexistant due to the European Union. One can go from Portugal all the way to Estonia without being stopped by any border guards. I didnt even realized that I passed a border until I see the flag change.

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