The Hermitage Museum, the Tsars winter palace in central Saint Petersburg, 11,000,000 world heritage artifacts that would take 15 years to inspect individually. 80 cats. Still live in it’s basement to control the rats and mice – dating from Catherine the Great’s time. The oval portrait attached below is of Tsarina Elizabeth I, Peter’s favorite daughter. She apparently owned 2000 pairs of shoes and 15,000 dresses and partied until 6AM every morning.
The Church of the Spilled Blood. Spectacular icon stand, mosaics and golden Russian domes. Tsar Alexander II was assassinated here by a bomb, hence the name. We walk by World Cup Fanfest where many Iranian and Moroccan fans are congregating. We see a few drunk people but absolutely no street people.
We have lunch at the Fyodor Dostoevsky restaurant. He lived in SP in 22 different apartments. He gambled a lot and moved to the next place when the rent was due. Chicken Kiev and red wine was great. I think I saw Fyodor sitting in the shadows!
We head to the General Staff building impressionists painting exhibition. Dozens and dozens of paintings from Picasso, to Matisse, to Van Gough, Rembrandt, Degas and Monet + some Russian avant garde Salvador Dali like ones too. We are starting to get museumed out but it’s great.
The city is choked with WC traffic now as we head south out of town to Catherine’s Palace. The amber room is absulutely goergeous and one of the new wonders of the wotld. Carherine (II) the Great was the wife of Peter’s grandson and loved living in her palace (which was actually named after Peter’s wife Catherine I). She was a more serious type and would rise each day at 6AM. There are extensive gardens, a large lake and walking paths.
The Nazis destroyed this palace in WWII so it has been painstakingly restored. Russia has forgiven the actions of a few German politicians but not Holland according to Marina, our tour guide. We learn more about the Tsars, all very interesting. The second portrait attached below is of Catherine the Great.
We dine at Jacques on board and meet the only Canadian working in O’s fleet, Rafael from Québec City.
It slowly dawns on us that we are being treated to something very special here: we can still feel Peter the Great’s presence in his great city.