Peterhof, Peter the Great's palace
Saint Petersburg Travel Blog› entry 15 of 17 › view all entries
July 28th, 2006 – by: portia
We first stopped at the Jewish Great Choral Synagogue, the 2nd largest in Europe, and the only one in St Petersburg, serving a population of 90,000 Jews. It was where president Bush met Russian Jewish leaders in a politically significant visit in 2002, and the conductor Zubin Mehta conducted members of the Israel Phiharmonic Orchestra here to celebrate St Petersburg's 300 year birthday. Half of his musicians were from the former Soviet Union, and many were from St Petersburg's famous music conservatory.
Then we were off (it's only 19 miles west of St Petersburg). On the way, we got to see some typical Soviet style apartment buildings, which were really boring concrete boxes, without elevators! After the Soviet Union collapsed, it became possible to own the apartments. The ones privately owned can usually be spotted by the newer windows. Same was true in the Baltics cities we travelled to earlier on this trip.
Then we started to see nice looking Dachas, some under construction, which were obviously new and built by people who have some money. The area close to Peterhof was a desirable location, next to the Gulf of Finland, and of course Peterhof!
Peter the Great got the idea of building a great palace to rival Versailles, which he visited when he toured western Europe for 19 months (the first Russian monarch to travel abroad).
We had lunch at the Standard Restaurant near the water, and took the hydrofoil back to St Petersburg.
We had a little free time so we went to the Russian Museum. We walked there from our hotel, and on the way we walked past the Hotel Grand Europe, with a lot of antique Jaguars in front, and more were pulling in! We struck up a conversation with one of the guys at the foreign exchange inside the hotel, and he told us they were from a Jaguar XK club in England, and were on a grand tour of Europe in a caravan of about 40 antique Jags. That was quite a sight. However, it's one time I did not have a camera with me, so no photos!
After having some ice cream for a snack, we went back to the hotel and boarded the bus to see the ballet Swan Lake. The ballet was pretty good, performed by the students of a performing school here (I suppose the professionals went to perform abroad).
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