Friday, August 31, 2012

The Hermitage and Herring: Russia Day 2

With more than 65 canals, Saint Petersburg is known as the Venice of the North. We started our second day in Russia on a canal cruise up the Neva River. It was a fantastic overview of the city, and we got a glass of champagne and Russian chocolates. That's my kind of tour :)

Canals on the Neva River

Our tour company arranged for us to have early entry into the Hermitage museum, which was amazing. There were other tour groups there, but it was much less crowded than it was later in the afternoon. We heard from other people on our boat that they didn't enjoy the museum because they could barely see the art through the throngs of people.

I loved it though. The art was great, but the buildings themselves were incredible. The Hermitage is made up of five buildings, and each room is different. I loved the ceilings that were painted in a 3D effect making it look like it was carved.

The Hermitage has 15,000 paintings and 12,000 sculptures. It gets 3 million visitors a year! One of my favorite rooms was the portrait gallery. It had 336 military portraits that were painted by one guy. It took him ten years, but he painted five or six paintings a day!

I liked this sculpture. It was made out of marble but it was painted to look like bronze. I've never seen that before.

We spent the rest of our morning at the Church of Spilled Blood. It's offical name is Resurrection of Christ Church but it's known as the Church of Spilled Blood because it is the site Tsar Alexander II's assassination. The outside is breathtakingly beautiful, but it's nothing compared to the inside.

The inside of the church is covered in 7,000 square miles of mosaics! The pictures do not do it justice at all. It was spectacular.

I was studying Russian before we moved to Harrogate, and it was great being able to use some of that in real life. One of the most fun parts was when we took a lunch break and were able to order Russian comfort food off the menu. We got pickled herring and blini (pancakes) with caviar. So delicious!

After lunch we made a brief stop at the metro (tip: it's not as cool as the Moscow one is) and then visited the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was murdered. Rasputin's story is so interesting. He was rumored to be a healer who was helping Tsar Nicholas's son with his hemophelia. The Russian public didn't know that Alexis had the disease. People close to the Tsar decided to kill Rasputin to prevent the public from learning the truth. They tried poisoning him, shooting him (twice), and finally drowning him. He was a really tough dude.

They had a little wax figure display of Rasputin in the basement, but the real star was the palace's theater.

This chandelier is made of paper!

We certainly packed as much as we could into our two days in Russia. It wasn't nearly enough time though. Hopefully one day we'll be back. Until then, dosvedanya Russia!

Read about our other ports of call:
First port: Copenhagen, Denmark
Second port: Stockholm, Sweden
Third port: Helsinki, Finland
Fourth port: Saint Petersburg, Russia (day 1)
Fifth port: Tallin, Estonia
Sixth port: Gothenburg, Sweden

1 comment:

  1. I love all your stories that accompany the remember a lot more than I do! It was magnificent to see.