Our son David has written the following about St Petersburg:
I have always wanted to visit Russia, after learning the language doing a college
course. So I was very excited about a month holiday aboard Mithril and the chance
see St Petersburg. Once we had lined up for 30 mins and been through a very organised
and professional passport control we emerged into a sunny industrial St. Petersburg.
The first challenge was where is the city centre, after looking at the map turning
it upside down a few times, putting it away we set off down the busiest road. It
was a very hot day resulting in constant smell of car fumes all the way into the
city. It was amazing , round every corner was something interesting, remains of
old industry or an old derelict church and the ever present clapped out Lada.
It was a long walk into town, but once we found the river Neva we were nearly there.
Once in the centre the architecture takes you by surprise, virtually every building
is a masterpiece. We had our usual mid-morning coffee and then headed for the Hermitage
I must add, that in each room was a security guard, well actually a Russian grandmother
sat poised to shout at anyone who stepped out of line. You could not look them in
We also visited the Winter Palace, again, amazing decadence, gold leaf, silk wallpaper,
crystal chandeliers and beautiful parquet flooring we could actually walk on. Amazing
paintings and furniture. Altogether quite breathtaking.
Once outside we decided to take a walk through the city to see the sites. We ambled
down Nevski Prospect, the main street, until we came to what seemed to be a war
memorial full of columns. We walked round it and then realised that it was the main
cathedral. We also saw the most amazing building The Church of the Spilled Blood.
It is red brick but has elaborate bright coloured domes. It reminds me of a smaller
version of Gaudi�s Cathedral in Barcelona. Inside is even more stunning, all the
internal walls are made up of mosaic. 7,000 sq m of minute tiled pictures of the
most unusual religious images. It is absolutely amazing. I can not imagine the time
it took to complete these.
We ended the day with a Russian nesting doll shopping frenzy. An amazing day in
a amazing city.
Day 2 we decided to spend the day just outside St. Petersburg and visit the
famous Summer Palace, at Peterhoff. It is about an hour outside of St. Petersburg.
The summer palace is where the Russian royalty would spend their summer, a bit like
the Queen and Balmoral. The bus journey was fascinating it took us on a transect
right through the centre, industrial areas, residential area and the suburbs. We
had a guide on the bus who explained all the changes that had taken place over the
last 30 years. A lot of the central part of St. Petersburg was destroyed during
the second world war, and these areas have been left as parkland. Under communist
rule they encouraged new housing to be built out of town, so there are lots of massive
communities of flats. In the countryside you drive past derelict palaces, and grand
buildings that are now abandoned.
This palace is another amazing place, each room awash with historical artefacts,
elaborate pictures, chandeliers and furniture. Again a show of wealth and power.
What made the place special for me were the gardens, full of wonderful fountains
inspired by Peter the Greats travels through Europe and all powered by gravity.
Late afternoon, on our way back to St Petersburg, we had a traditional Russian meal
in a reconstructed wooden Russian village served in heavy hand made pottery.