I promised I wouldn’t slack on my usual Wednesday Stories…and here it is, 6.19pm and oops…nada. So we’ll try to squeeze one in real quick – tomorrow’s the ‘official’ end of third quarter…and in my world, that means a good 18 hour day. And when I say good…well, I don’t really mean it.
And back to the trip. So far you’ve revisited Stockholm and Helsinki with me. Today, we’ll be headed to St. Petersburg, Russia.
It was on this part of the cruise that I realized I was getting RIPPED OFF. For every night when we came back from the show…there seemed to be a cute little reminder note that, as we were traveling further west, we need to go ahead and set our clocks ahead an hour before we went to bed.
Come again?? I mean, I’d already given up 30 degrees just by coming all the way from North Cackalacky to the Baltics region. Now I was going to have to start giving up an hour a night?
Has no one realized the trauma that can be ‘Living with Jyl when she’s Underslept?”
Alright. There was a pay off.
We were in Russia at daybreak – yeah, Russia. THAT Russia. The one that we’ve all read about and had fears about and then felt pride for when they broke up the USSR.
First stop of the day was Catherine’s Summer Palace. Now…for those of you unhistoried peeps. Catherine was married to Peter the Great. He was a Tsar way back in the day. I dig Catherine. She believed that a gal didn’t need to be too skinny. She believed that it was okay to have a husband and some special male friends. She believed in not just having her own space at the palace – but in having her own actual palace.
Walking up Pushkin Drive to her palace…I at first got the feeling that it was going to be not nearly as glamorous as in my schoolbooks.
Although, I immediately realized that, yes, there should be a band to greet me everywhere I go.
As we came up Pushkin Drive – the palace was in shadows and the side you come up is the chapel side – so you don’t know that you aren’t really seeing the ‘big picture.’
And then you kind of turn the corner and there’s a long iron fence…and you sort of turn towards the gate in the fence and…holy gilded gold.
This place was huge. And shiny as can be.
I can only imagine how much money the city spends on cleaning this place – inside and out. Thank you city. PS…buy a lawn mower.
I doubt we saw an eighth of the palace. I mean, we saw a lot – room after room – but I’m pretty sure we really only hit a minuscule fraction of it.
Seeing places like that always make me wonder if folks that live there ever get lost. Or just totally annoyed because they’d rather be on the complete opposite side of the estate.
Like sometimes I get annoyed because I’m upstairs and meant to do something else downstairs.
I have left the house sockless just because I was too annoyed to run back upstairs and get a pair. As my dad said…I’m guessing Catherine probably had ‘people’ to run back and retrieve her forgotten socks.
Another spot we visited was the Peter & Paul Cathedral – this is actually nearer to Catherine’s Winter Palace and is essentially a church/graveyard-for-all-but-two-tsars.
The crypts were all done in white marble with a simple gold cross on top. But my favorite part was the annex that held Tsar Nicholas and his family – the group that was assassinated in the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Their bodies were only recently found and identified. It was one of those great love stories that ended so tragically.
Did that story just totally bring the mood down? My bad. There are quite a few ‘unhappy’ endings in Russian history…so it’s not really my fault…
Onward…to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Which refers to the blood of Tsar Alexander II. Who was assassinated on that site in 1881. Okay, another unhappy ending.
But look at those crazy spires!
Yes, very similar to the spires in Red Square. Copy Cat.
All in all our day in St. Petersburg was a hit – except the part where we thought we were coming back in two days after our jaunt to Moscow…but ended up having to skip it…
More about that next time…
What I will say about my first day in Russia ~
1. Immigration was exactly what I expected. Completely stone faces and no room for jokes. You cannot enter the country without paperwork showing that you have a reason.
2. There was sunshine. Everything I pictured about Russia involved gloomy skies. Had I known that this would be the only day we saw sunshine in Russia, I would have paid better attention.
3. While a lot of the history is quite sad – they are proud of it. It makes the country what it is.
4. Capitalism lives. There was shopping available geared towards tourism – which showed me that entrepreneurialism is working. I’m curious as to what another couple of decades will change in the country.
So all in all – it was a much brighter place than I expected – both in weather and in personality. Super glad I got to see it for a day – because the monsoon was a’coming…