Trip Start May 03, 2012
9Trip End May 14, 2012
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Today we visit the Peterhof Palace
We head into the town called Peterhof. We start to see some newly built single family homes that look to be about 2000 sq. feet. They are selling for 1MIL- 5 MIL US dollars. Peterhof is the location of the summer residence of Peter the Great. The palace was built in the 18th century for Peter’s daughter Elizabeth. The palace sits on 150 acres and has more than 7 parks, 20 smaller palaces, 64 fountains and 37 gilded statues
The grounds are amazing! Unfortunately, we can only take pictures of the exterior. We have to check our jackets, purses and cameras and are asked to wear shoe covers when we enter inside. The inside is so ornate. Several rooms are covered in gold and silk covers the walls. Although the Germans did not enter St. Petersburg, they did take occupy Peterhof. Before the Germans arrived, the Russians were able to remove all the original paintings, chandeliers, silks and furniture from Peterhof Place and store if for safekeeping. The Germans used the palace as their headquarters and bombed it before they left. The place was close to leveled and it has taken several decades to restore.
After several hours touring the place and the grounds we hop on a hydrofoil boat to take us back to the city center. After lunch, we visit the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Cathedral. The fortress was built in 1703 to protect Russia from Sweden. The fortress was also used as a prison for political revolutionaries. The Cathedral is a working Russian Orthodox Church that houses the bodies of Peter the Great and his family. Russian Orthodox mass is 3 hrs. long and no one sits. There are no seats or pews and everyone is expected to stand the entire time. That is how they stay connected to God during mass
On our way back to the ship we take another city tour now that the streets are reopened. We drive down the “Rodeo Drive” of St. Petersburg called Nevsky Prospect. The street is lined with Gucci, Cartier, etc. The fashion in Russia is interesting. It’s not uncommon to see women wearing jeans with glitter imbedded from top to bottom with elastic at the ankles. Some wear flats, others in really high heels, but everyone is wearing those jeans. I really hope they don’t make their way to America!
Russia is more progressive and sophisticated than we ever expected. The city is clean and the traffic well managed. We didn’t see any homeless or begging and very little graffiti. St. Petersburg only averages 28 sunny days and today was another beautiful day. The weather was in the 60’s and sunny with very few clouds all day. It was such a great day to see Peterhof Palace and to see some additional sightseeing in the city. We really enjoyed our time in St. Petersburg.