Peterhof Palace

Trip Start May 03, 2012
Trip End May 14, 2012

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We watched the sun set at 10:15pm yesterday. It didn't get completely dark until close to 11:30. It felt like 6pm! We were reminded of our time in Iceland, standing on the glacier and taking a picture of Paul’s watch around 10pm with daylight in the background.  What a weird feeling to be up late and it be light out.  The Russians call it "White Nights". We watched the sunset in the sports bar on the top floor and everyone around us was ordering food….they must have felt like it was dinnertime too.  The wait staff does a great job of getting you to eat. They are always offering snacks, ice cream, another helping of breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It’s hard to say “no”.   A couple of nights ago we ordered a pizza via room service at 12:30am!! Although we have never taken the elevator and regularly walk up 6 flights of stairs, we fully expect to put on a few pounds this trip.

Today we visit the Peterhof Palace. The Palace is about 1 hour drive outside of St. Petersburg. Today is Victory Day…on May 9th 1945t the Nazi’s surrendered and were run out of Russia.  They have parades and festivals planned and the main roads in the city surrounding the squares are closed.  We have to take the side roads to get out of town so we get to see the working class areas.  Most people in Russia live in apartment buildings and have an apartment no larger than 3 rooms. Since the economy is so unstable, it’s not uncommon for several generations to live together in a small apartment.  Our guide, Marina Karpova, says that since the fall of the Soviet Union, the way of life has been very unstable for the average person. During the time of the USSR, everyone was given an apartment to live in and had a pension. Today, the government is extremely corrupt and people are worried about their future. Older Russians were happier during Communist times.  People make very little money and things are very expensive.

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. 
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Paul Jordan on

It looks like you guys are having a great time. I hope you bought a pair of jeans Julie! And thanks for the shout out! Be safe!

Don on

Ok, these even top the first St Petersburg blog entry! Glad to hear you got the great whether to view the gardens by!

Jennifer on

I've got to see a picture of those jeans!

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