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Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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More mayhem at the Hermitage

We started today by returning to Pryanosti & Radosti for breakfast. After all, during our fabulous first feast in St. Petersburg we learned the restaurant was open 24/7.  Breakfast was unspectacular, unfortunately, and the place virtually deserted.  Even worse, it was a twenty-five minute hike from the hotel and I had already worn Laura down with my “see by feet” mode of touring for over a week now.

Seeking reprieve, we headed towards the Neva riverfront by the Hermitage to enjoy a canal cruise.  Apparently there is one departing at 1PM which is narrated in English, but we arrived on the scene ten minutes too late (though we did get to witness more of the maddening long lines to enter the Hermitage).  No matter, there are tons of canal cruising opportunities.

Glimpsing one of the Rostral Columns at Strelka at the beginning of our canal cruise
  We had gained appreciation for St. Petersburg’s intensive canal network, largely due to being constantly badgered by buskers hawking rides along her waterways.

So, we simply acknowledged the next person shouting at us, and for 500 rubles apiece, boarded a barge.  Though doubtless our enjoyment would have been enhanced by an English sound track, it was quite peaceful to relax and watch the city glide by, even if clueless about the scenes being passed.  I think all these barge tours last for an hour, which is about perfect: by the tour’s conclusion the serenity began edging towards monotony.

Afterwards we hoofed back to the hotel, where Laura released me for further exploration while she napped.  This was at 4PM, which seems a late start to ‘begin’ a walk, but I swear the entire city is on a time shift towards midnight during White Nights.

Canal cruise visions.

I began my solo stroll by striking out for marathon registration.  A little bit of fumbling about was involved, but it did not take terribly long to locate the indoor track facility for signing up.  Once there, it was the easiest registration ever.  I simply walked up to the table displaying the range including my bib number (they had texted it to me several days earlier) and flashed my passport.  The hall was crammed with the usual glut of vendors pushing running goods, but for the first time I received my race shirt immediately – every other time I have been handed a ticket to be redeemed at a table WAY AT THE BACK of the venue, forcing you to parade past the all the crap for sale.

The chip check knew to display my name in English characters!

Tourist literature stressed the need to always be carrying your passport, but that seemed a bit ridiculous while running a marathon, so I steered for the information booth. Despite scant confidence of finding anyone speaking English, the woman at the desk was fluent.  Huzzah.  She quickly reassured my race bib substituted for passport identification throughout the race.

So I was quickly processed and on my way.  The last stage is striding over a mat which reads the chip you receive; permitting entrants to validate it is being read correctly.  I was very impressed to see my name pop up in English (one of a select few not in Cyrillic), a nice touch.

Back to touring, I headed for Strelka, the eastern tip of Vasilevskiy Island by steering towards Dvortsovvy Most (“Palace Bridge”) along Griboyedova Canal.

Approaching Church on the Spilled Blood as I march down Griboyedova Canal.
  This canal passes by Church on the Spilled Blood and offers some great new viewpoints of the masterpiece.  From there I followed Moyka Canal to my bridge – felt like I was really learning my way around the city.

Strelka proved a noteworthy stop and I’ve covered it in detail with a review, below.

From Strelka I meandered along University Embankment, the street running along the Neva shoreline down to Blogoveshchenskiy Bridge.  As you might infer from the street name, there are plenty more grand structures, typically housing educational institutions (and museums).  Enjoyed a couple lovely garden parks between some of the palatial buildings of higher learning and was almost relieved to come upon some more wedding pictures being staged!  During this stroll I passed a pair of sphinxes and was so impressed by how genuine they appeared I googled afterwards – turns out these were taken from Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s tomb in the Alley of the Sphinxes and date to 1400 BC.

The Bronze Horseman - famous statue of Peter the Great off of Palace Square in St. Petersburg

Crossing the bridge placed me back in the heart of St. Petersburg, where I was sure to take in The Bronze Horseman, a famed sculpture of Peter the Great astride a magnificent steed that was commissioned by Catherine the Great. I had read it possessed a lot of meaningful symbolism, though I was neither inspired nor impressed.

Next was Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Palace Square), where the marathon would begin.  This is a grand space, with the mighty Alexander Column plunked down in its center (in commemoration of Tsar Alexander I’s victory over Napoleon).  The towering red granite spire weighs over 600 tons: it is the world’s largest free standing monument.  After enjoying the square and the bordering Admiralty building I beat feet back home, passing by the Hermitage.

Cool fountain which begged me to return to the Summer Garden to capture.
  I was tickled to see a maintenance guy mucking about in one of its fountains – suppose cleaning up is never finished.

Of course the Summer Garden was on the way back and I swooped in to grab a few photos of sights I had failed to capture during our first visit.  In further defiance of probability, who did I spy with my little eye but Leo and his brother again?  They were a distance away and busy snapping selfies so I did not chase them down, but it did seem I should buy a lottery ticket the way I was beating the odds.

cotton_foam says:
Once in a while it is ok to be "clueless" of what is there in front in exchange to simply enjoying what is there to see...
Posted on: Dec 18, 2016
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More mayhem at the Hermitage
More mayhem at the Hermitage
Glimpsing one of the Rostral Colum…
Glimpsing one of the Rostral Colu…
Canal cruise visions.
Canal cruise visions.
The chip check knew to display my …
The chip check knew to display my…
Approaching Church on the Spilled …
Approaching Church on the Spilled…
The Bronze Horseman - famous statu…
The Bronze Horseman - famous stat…
Cool fountain which begged me to r…
Cool fountain which begged me to …
I suppose canals require maintenan…
I suppose canals require maintena…
Anichov Bridge from our canal crui…
Anichov Bridge from our canal cru…
Close-up of one of the four sculpt…
Close-up of one of the four sculp…
So many lovely details in the brid…
So many lovely details in the bri…
Another artistic bridge spanning a…
Another artistic bridge spanning …
St. Isaacs Cathedral viewed durin…
St. Isaac's Cathedral viewed duri…
Tying off our barge at the end of …
Tying off our barge at the end of…
The marathon pathway...
The marathon pathway...
The majesty of Church on the Spill…
The majesty of Church on the Spil…
Church on the Spilled Blood simply…
Church on the Spilled Blood simpl…
The Rostral Columns on Strelka wer…
The Rostral Columns on Strelka we…
Academy of Arts building on Vasile…
Academy of Arts building on Vasil…
Phew...I thought the weddings were…
Phew...I thought the weddings wer…
Ancient Egyptian Sphinxes along Un…
Ancient Egyptian Sphinxes along U…
Peering towards St. Isaacs Cathed…
Peering towards St. Isaac's Cathe…
Magnificent Alexander Column in Pa…
Magnificent Alexander Column in P…
Palace Square is so expansive (and…
Palace Square is so expansive (an…
Viewing the Alexander Column with …
Viewing the Alexander Column with…
Close-up of the base of the Alexan…
Close-up of the base of the Alexa…
Sculpture on facade of General Sta…
Sculpture on facade of General St…
Palace Square, St. Petersburg
Palace Square, St. Petersburg
With these grand archways you coul…
With these grand archways you cou…
Details of an arch at the Admiralt…
Details of an arch at the Admiral…
More details of the Admiralty...a …
More details of the Admiralty...a…
Cleaning fountains at the Hermitage
Cleaning fountains at the Hermitage
Magnificent pillar supports along …
Magnificent pillar supports along…
Summer Garden
Summer Garden
Saint Petersburg Sights & Attractions review
I get the point
Strelka is the eastern point of Vasilevskiy Island, best known for the expansive views it affords and the landmark pair of Rostral Columns. The somew… read entire review