Loving St. Petersburg

Trip Start Nov 21, 2007
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of Russian Federation  , North-West Russia,
Friday, July 4, 2008

Our last stop in RUSSIA! We took an overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg which seemed so easy after our other journey. We arrived at 6:40 am and were taken to our hotel where they did have rooms available for us to at least shower. Then, at 9:00 am we met our local guide, Olga, for a walk around the city for an orientation. The weather this day was HOT. We walked down Nevsky Prospekt which was the main street in the city. We walked in the Yekaterininsky Gardens and learned about the classical style of architecture. St. Petersburg definitely felt European to us, very different than Moscow. We walked past the Kazaan Cathedral and Church of the Spilled Blood. Then we went to the Dvortsovaya Plaza where the Alexander Column and Hermitage is (the 2nd largest museum in the world after the Louvre). We finished up with lunch at a cafe where Layton had beef strogonoff and Jana had chicken broth with pancakes. Both were yummy.

Our group broke up then and we went to see the inside of the Church of the Spilled Blood where there were MANY mosaics of Christ's life and stories of the Bible. Such amazing artwork to try to take in. Afterwards, we went to a souvenir market to scope out a few things and guess what we saw? TCU and A&M Babushka dolls! AND they let us take a picture of them! So cool. While we were there we of course saw more brides and grooms getting their pictures made. It is really a neat thing to see but Layton was very glad to already be married! He does not think that Russia is a place to bring a female that is not your wife because there are so many weddings around it is bound to put pressure on the guy!? That evening, we went to see Swan Lake, the ballet, at Alexanderinsky Theater. We made it through all three acts! We had to go see a ballet in RUSSIA. Layton was a great sport too. When we walked out of the performance, it was 10:45 pm and the sun was still casting shadows on the buildings. White nights were definitely happening while we were there! It reminded us of Iceland when we visited in 2003.

Our second day, we visited the Hermitage which was AMAZING. It is the second largest museum in the world. We started the tour in the winter palace which was Catherine the Great's home. Elizabeth put most of the work into gathering the art and precious works but never lived in it. Much of the art was either a gift or acquired from other countries during the 13th - 20th, or taken from private collections during the Soviet Revolution. Sad because most of the world's art is stolen from other countries, but the Russians just stole from themselves! The second part of the tour was the art of the world. You will see we took lots of pictures so we won't bore you with those details. The rest of the afternoon we spent walking up the stairs of St. Isaac's Cathedral, wandering past The Bronze Horseman, journeying over the Neva river where we saw a speed boat race, and ending our tour at St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral and Fortress.

Our last day we took a hydrofoil boat to Peterhof which is known as the Summer Palace. Fountains fill the acreage which make it a nice place to wander around. Most visitors don't even make it into the actual Palace. They just walk along the pathways and snap photos of the fountains. The best waterfalls were the one in the back of the palace, but we managed to see many, many more....before they turned the water off around 6pm. We had wanted to take a picture of a specific fountain with sunshine, and by the time we got back to it, the water was off. Oh well!! We had a nice dinner with Nellie, Ian, and Jack before heading out early in the morning to Latvia.

With Love from Russia!

RANDOM: After taking lots of pics of the Moscow metro, we were told that we could not take any photos in the St. Petersburg metro. So weird how the cities can be so different.

We learned random Russian letters by the time we were done. P is an R sound. Backwards N is an "I" sound. You say thank you with "spasiba". They used "nyet" ALOT. Nellie even coined the phrase "nyet schpeee (the sound a coke makes when you open it)" so we could order still water to drink. We got better as the time went on...as always.

Laundry was an interesting experience. We did a load at the hotel in St. Petersburg for only 40 rubles ($1.50 or so) which took 1.5 hours. It sort of beat up a few of our clothes but hey, they are CLEAN, right? Jana had one casualty, but nothing that will be a trip ender!

We called the rubles, rubles like Barney Ruble from the Flintstone. It was then shortened to Rubs.
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