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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

St Petersburg, Russia, Day 2

Early up this morning, because we have to be ready outside to escort the tour to the Hermitage Musuem.  And it was freezing! 

We loaded up the buses, and then sat listening to the tour guides as they explained how things were going to work out for the tour.  You can't take back packs, large bags, coats or bottles of water into the museum.  Why? Cos some numpty in the past tried to damage the paintings.  They do provide a very good cloakroom service, so it's not so bad and once we'd discarded all the excess, we set off for a 2 hour wander around what used to be the Winter Palace to the Russian Royal Family.

The palace itself is absolutely outstanding.  I would describe it as a feast for the eyes, but that is an understatement.  It didn't matter which direction you looked, the walls, floors and ceilings were covered in beautiful ornate decoration.  It could be a painting, or a mosaic, marble or plaster, it didn't matter as it was all just stunning.

And then there were the paintings and sculptures throughout.  In the two hours, we whizzed past so much - and there was so much that we didn't have time to even see, never mind stop to admire for a minute or so. 

A person would need months, if not years, to look properly at all the exhibits in the museum and we only had a couple of hours.  Words can't really describe it so here are a few pictures.  I didn't bother to photograph the paintings, I wouldn't be able to do them justice. (Except one, that I couldn't resist, and I don't even know who painted it!)

After the Hermitage Museum, we went back to the ship for a quick lunch, and then we were out again on a trip we'd booked ourselves on, rather than escorting.  We wanted a few hours to walk around St Petersburg just to see what we could see, so this trip was basically a bus to the city centre, where we left for a couple of hours to wander.

We set off to see St Isaacs Cathedral, but sadly, it turns out that it's closed on Wednesdays (as is the Church of the Spilled Blood by the way).  We were a little disappointed, but decided to make the most of it anyway and headed towards the River Neva to have a look at the Monument to Peter I

St Isaacs Cathedral

Monument to Peter I

Looking across the River Neva to the St Apostles Peter and Paul Cathedral

From there, it was only a short walk past The Admiralty Arch to the Winter Palace, the Alexander Column and the General Staff Building.

The Winter Palace

The Alexander Column and the General Staff Building.

Then we popped into one of the jewellers for a souvenir from the trip.  I'd particularly wanted a small amber pendant and chain and I'm dead chuffed with the one I now have around my neck.

After a little retail therapy, we started back down Nevskiy Prospect for the bus, with a little diversion to have a look inside the Cathedral of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.  It was the building we saw yesterday and didn't know what it was.  It doesn't look like a cathedral. 

But it is, and it was very much in use.  I didn't take any pictures as it just seemed wrong to photograph this place of worship whilst people were praying.  It was lovely though, the altar was quite stunning.  I recommend it.

Then it was back on the bus, back to the ship and back to the cabin - absolutely shattered.  Looking out the windows at dinner time and this evening, we can see large flakes of snow.  It seems quite fitting as we leave the city.

That doesn't mean we have any time to catch up on ourselves though, we have Helsinki tomorrow.  Another place I'm looking forward to.  Awesome. 

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