St. Petersburg, Russia.........Russian Wonderland
Saint Petersburg Travel Blog› entry 7 of 7 › view all entries
Our final stop on the Baltic region trip was
We started out bright and early on the morning of Rob’s birthday.
We arrived at the station and the car we arranged was waiting. We checked into the hotel and had some time to walk around some before our guide was meeting us. We were immediately blown away by the beauty and grandeur of the city. We made a quick stop at the ATM to get cash. We were surprised to find you can get US Dollars and Rubles, but no Euros.
In some areas there are nice parks between buildings. These were not originally planned; they are the result of destroyed or damaged buildings that were torn down. They city chose not to rebuild. One thing the Soviets did was tear down churches. They were very threatened by the church or anything else that gave people something other than the government to believe in, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. During the Lenin era very large and ornate buildings we built. Multiple families would share the apartments, having a communal kitchen and bathroom. Each person had an allotted amount of space, so if a family had more than that allotted then the government would assign someone else to live with them. Single people were assigned to corners of rooms.
We had arranged for Peter to accompany us to dinner to ensure we found a good place and could interpret the menu correctly. We continued to have a great conversation about the changes since the revolution. Peter is part of the transitional generation. He remebers being a Young Pioneer (Soviet version of Boy and Girl Scouts) and was a young adult during the revolution. He said that the older people have had a harder time adjusting because the government had always taken the lead. Older people are also have to rely on their children for support now rather than the government supporting them in retirement.
During the 90's there was a very lucrative business in converting government property. Peter said that during that time the young Russian men wanted to be gangsters. They played out the role well and created quite a problem. The young women wanted to be high class hookers, because who wants to be a low class hooker. Times have changed and the mafia problems have been cleaned-up. Now people are very interested in going to law school. The Prime Minister and President both have law degrees so youth see it as road to success.
After a very nice dinner and much more time than Peter had planned we called it a night.
Our second day was set to be the tourist sites with Natalia from Peter's Walking Tours.
We started by walking to Strelka. On the way we passed through the
From there we went to Strelka located on the eastern end of
We crossed the bridge to visit the fortress. The founding of the Peter and Paul Fortress on
We crossed the river again and went through the Field of Mars. Originally it was used for military maneuvers, but has been transformed into a garden. In the center stands the
We moved on to the Church on Spilled Blood. It was built on the place were Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It is an incredibly colorful and impressive building. The details and variety of materials are mind blowing. Once you go inside you the true majesty of the building is revealed in the mosaics. They cover every inch of the walls and ceilings. This is one of those buildings you can sit in and stare for hours to take in the details.
At this point we were very hungry so we headed to lunch. This required we take a regular bus. To ensure people pay they have a person who comes around and sells tickets.
After lunch we moved on to St Issac's Cathedral. It weights 300,000 tones and has 48 massive columns. They had to build special structures to erect the columns. We know we keep saying it, but the details, beauty, and craftsmanship were unbelieveable. Originally there were oil painting in the Cathedral, but due to humidity issues they were replaced with mosaics. Since the invention of HVAC the oil paintings have been returned. They have left some of the mosaics on display.
From St Issac's we raced through the rain to The Hermitage. The original museum was built on to the
We still needed to do the souvenir shopping so we headed to the open air market again. We were able to get everything we wanted and made some bargains by negotiating. At this point we were pretty tired. We headed back to the hotel. We filled out post cards. The stamps we had purchased did not have glue on the backs so we had to borrow them some from the front desk. Hopefully they will get to everyone.
That night we ate at a restaurant close to the hotel. It was a Georgian place with a lovely Georgian woman running it. We had a delicious meal and some very good conversation. She had a different perspective on the events in
All in all it was an outstanding day. We saw and learned so much. We went to bed tired and in awe.