Magnificent St. Petersburg

Trip Start Jun 15, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2010

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday morning we arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia.  We were having breakfast in the Grand Dining Room with music playing.  I am thinking to myself that I am eating the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had when I realize they are playing the theme from The Titanic.  WTH.?!?!

There is the Economic Summit going on in the city this weekend so things have been a bit crazy.  Plus it is graduation weekend for the high school students and there are many celebrations.

Today we started by going to St. Catherine's Palace.  It is beautiful and words cannot describe it.  Every room is breathtaking.  You have to put on little booties over your shoes to protect the intricate parquet floors.  It takes your breath away to look at all the detail in the furniture carvings, paintings, fireplace tiles, etc.  Each room is better than the one before it.

We had lunch on the grounds at a little shop that makes various types of blinis. I had chicken and mushrooms, Randy had ham and cheese and for desert we had an apricot bliini.  The blinis are thicker than a crepe but not quite as thick as a tortilla.

After lunch we headed out for the Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum.  We were suppose to visit that on Sunday but our guide got a call that it wasn't very crowded so we bumped it up a day.  There are 5 buildings but you don't realize it as you move from one to another.  If you saw each item for only 1 minute you would be here for 5 years.  We covered the highlights of the museum and I have a new appreciation for the art of the masters.  However when we got to the Picasso room we all agreed it was time to go.  LOL

This evening we stayed up until almost 2:00 am.  They said there were supposed to be fireworks for the graduations but we never saw them.  Also about 1:00 am they open all the bridges along the Neva River to allow the large ships through.  This brings all traffic to a standstill for about 3 hours which is why they do it in the middle of the night.  We only saw one bridge open. 

Today was a long and exhausting day but thank goodness the weather has been on our side so far.  We meet Albina and Ivan ( our guide and driver ) tomorrow at 9:30am  again.

Sunday - and we start the day by seeing St. Isaacs Cathedral.  I wish I had the words to describe the insides of these churches.  They are so detailed and every item has a story behind it.  There is a lot of mosaic and gold.  The Russian Orthodox stand for their service and they move from saint to saint to pray, depending on their needs.  There is a saint for health, a saint for prosperity, etc.  All women cover their heads.  They also bring candles to light at the different saints.  We were invited in to hear some church singers; very moving.  Everything is running together and I can't remember if it was here or another church where we were able to see the caskets of the Romanov family.  This was the family that was murdered along with their servants and doctor.  They have just recently found the remains of two more of the children and they will be buried here as well.

We ate at a pie shop which had fruit pies, meat pies, soup, etc.  Randy played it safe and bought the meat pie.  I had cabbage pie and Borscht (beet soup).  The Borscht was excellent!  Randy tried it and turned up his nose. 

After lunch we headed for Church of the Spilled Blood.  Someone was shot at this location (sorry that I can't remember who it was) in the 18th century.  They build this church in his honor.  This was the church I was really looking forward to seeing because of the Russian architecture and brilliant colors.  The interior is also very brightly colored so they have nicknamed it The Children's Church. 

Have I said that people get married every day of the week and so we are always running into bridal parties walking through the streets and taking pictures.  The maid of honor and best man wear sashes so you can easily tell who they are. 

We stopped at the typical touristy store and bought a few things.  We were offered a shot of vodka (for you Monica!) and of course we accepted. 

Today was long but worth every minute.  It drizzled a little bit but not enough to even open our umbrellas.  We are told the fireworks and bridge opening will take place tonight.  We're too tired to stay up.   Tomorrow, thankfully,  will be a shorter day.

Monday - We are headed out to Peterhof Palace and gardens.  Hof means town in German so it is Peter the Great's town.  It is about an hour's drive from St. Petersburg.  Once we got out of the city we were able to see some big, beautiful homes.  The architecture is inspired a lot by the Dutch as Peter the Great really admired everything about them. 

The gardens of Peterhof are beautiful.  I can't tell you how many pictures I took.  The fountains are turned on at 11:00 am and we and a thousand other people were there to see it.  Since it was Monday the gardens were closed to everyone by tourists.  It was busy but not overly crowded.  The music they play while each fountain starts brought chills to me.  Randy and I have agreed that no picture can capture the beauty of this place as you have to hear the fountains, smell the fresh air, and feel the breeze to really appreciate the beauty.  Some things are better left to memory. 

It seems that Peter was quite a rascal.  He had sprinklers installed along some of the walkways of his gardens.  As he and his guests were walking along he would signal someone to turn them on.  They created a beautiful arch over everyone, but...... what goes up must come down.  This was the day of the powdered wigs and the women didn't take kindly to getting soaked.

We were able to see Peter's summer home here.  It was the first home to have a bathroom.  Ok, it was an enclosed outhouse within the home but hey, quite modern in those days.

We took the hydrofoil back to St. Petersburg which took about 40 minutes.  We were back on the ship by about 2:30 pm.  I took a nice long nap in preparation for the evening's festivities.

Tomorrow we will be in Tallinn, Estonia.
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Jessica on

Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time! Can't wait to see the pics and hear the tales. Safe trip home--see you soon.

Verona Castaneda on

Wish I was there with you. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Looking forward to hearing all about your favorite place & stories.
See ya soon...

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