The magnificent Hermitage

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 10, 2010

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hi everyone

Ly here, well we had an another warm beautiful day and started out day with a tasty turkish wrap doused in sour cream. All russian food here must have sour cream it seems!

We caught the metro to the amazing Winter Palace which was built to formally house the Russian Tsars (Kings). I read that the palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Russia. The palace now houses the Hermitage, one of the oldest and largest museums in the world with over 3 millions artworks! We were quite amazed at the variety of artwork on display but I was actually more interested in the ornately decorated rooms. There were rooms which were just about completely gilded in gold. Other rooms had crystal chandeliers hanging one after the other from the roof tops.

There seemed to be artwork from every culture and every period imaginable. There was Egyptian, prehistoric, Italian renaissance, German, French, Flemish, Dutch, Russian, modern, Japanese, Oriental, and American art. There was just so much to take in and we really only took our time looking at the works of Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and Renoir. It would simply take years to look at all the artworks in any great detail. We were quite lucky today because it was International Museum Day so there was free entry to all which was quite the windfall for us because tourists usually pay twice or more the price of what Russian visitors would pay.

What was surprising was that there were no real restrictions on taking photos in the Hermitage. So I went a bit snap happy taking photos of some of the artworks which I hope you all enjoy! After wandering the Hermitage for hours we were hungry and stumbled on a Russian franchise we'd spotted all around Moscow and St Petersburg. It’s called Teremok which is a modern Russian food outlet. They mainly do greasy crepes but had other dishes we wanted to try. I ordered the borscht soup which was a lot nicer than I expected. I was thinking cold cabbage soup but it was a hot beetroot cabbage soup with bacon bits. The only weird thing was I thought there was a poached egg in the soup and discovered it was a dollop of sour cream instead. Daniel and I shared two crepes, one with pate and pickles and the other a chocolate banana sweet crepe. I also ordered what was named semolina which was a divine custard sort of dessert with almond shavings, apple and caramel. Finally a Russian dish I like!

We were both exhausted from the walk and decided we had seen enough of St Petersburg. Although it’s a lot nicer here than Moscow the people are the same, most unfriendly, and the city skyline is rather ugly. I am however amazed at how beautiful the churches are and since coming here have learnt from Daniel the history between the catholic church and the orthodox church and how they separated and fought. The churches and mosaic artworks in the churches were very impressive and were something I hadn’t come across in any other parts of Europe.

The general consensus between Daniel and I is that we came, we saw and we won’t be coming back again. Daniel has done an amazing job of navigating because there are usually no indication of where anything is and the metro system here is mindboggling with everything in Russian and no indication of which direction to go to change lines or to exit the station. The streets here are quite dirty and mostly what I hate is the fact that spitting here seems to be the national hobby. The shopping here is very average with very few of the recognisable European brands you would normally come across. Sales staff here, even in souvenir shops, barely glance at you and are very unwilling in helping in anyway. We have rarely come across any other foreigners here and there seems to be a lot of other Russian tourists who must visit from other parts in Russia because even in the major tourist sites we’ve been to everything is described in Russian.

What’s funny is that we seem to see a lot of disgruntled Russian men fixing their cars on the roads a lot. Often you would see their car smoking like a rock concert and the bloke bending over the hood of the car with frustration.

I’ve noticed a lot of military men around. A lot of their uniforms are very soviet union looking and they look rather intimidating. In fact most men around Russia look intimidating.  We’ve come across some very angry young men who push their way through doors and in the stations with very little regard for anyone else. Others don’t seem to get annoyed at being pushed around and don’t bother putting up a fight which to me suggests that this is normal behaviour and people accept this and know it’s not worth speaking up about it. The women are usually placid and my goodness there are some rake tall Russian girls around!!! In fact some of the girls here are the tallest I’ve ever seen and they still wear towering heels. They dress very much how I expected Russian girls to dress in leopard tights and fur jackets.

To end the day, after trying some Russian buckwheat dish, Daniel gave in to his KFC craving. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow flying back to Moscow with a 4 hour stopover and then to Budapest.

All the best to everyone

Ly and Daniel
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Mum on

Wonderful photos, thank you, the marvel of digital photography.
Enjoy Budapest, from what I have read it is quite a lovely city.
Love mumxxxx

Ivy Mai on

The artwork was amazing and yay photos were allowed.
Love the photo of you two by the way, glad to see you are enjoying your trip.

Grandma on

Wendy and David visited Budapest in January, and we hd a tlak at church from a lday who had to leave there during the Communist Occupation. She has been back since and says there is a lot of poverty behind the wonderful buildings. Keep sending your beautiful pictures. Love you lotsl Grandma and Grandad

Andre on

What I find funny is that the museum admission is free if you a "Hero who fought for Soviet Socialism in battle of Besieged Leningrad".

... or just come on a Thursday.

Charles on

wow, Russia sounds very interesting,,,have learnt so much about the place!..

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