Tour Day 7: Catherine Palace and Yussopov Palace

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
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Trip End Aug 31, 2012

Flag of Russian Federation  , St Petersburg,
Friday, August 10, 2012

Catherine Palace is a huge complex in Pushkin, a little way out of St Petersburg. Of course, a lot of its surfaces are covered in gold leaf. It has a beautiful room, the Illuminated Hall, which has mirrors on the walls and hundreds of candles (now replaced by light bulbs of course). Elton John once played a concert there.

After Catherine Palace, we visited Yusopov Palace in the St Petersburg centre. This was bought by the Yusupov (Усупов) family in the 18th Century, and it's the place where Gregori Rasputin was killed. It has beautiful dining rooms where guests and dignitaries were entertained, a beautiful ballroom (where my friend and I had a lovely quick dance!) and a magnificent private theatre, built by the family. There is a spectacular concert hall, too, and we were treated to an amazing performance by a quartet of singers.

We all went out for dinner after visiting the Yusupov Palace. I had borsch again, and potatoes with mushrooms. I'll have to try making both of those at home, as well as pancakes! We had a lot of laughs. It turns out that one of the other tour members is named Teresa Moss!! She's a lovely lady, a teacher from London. She gave out some novelty gold medals to each of us; to the NZers -- me, Theresa, Moia and Merrick, for being a great team; to Irishman Paul for his quick wit; to Brit Phil for taking the most photos; to Brits Christine and Julie for being great cabin-mates on the train to St Petersburg; to London-based Aussie Christina for her sense of humour; and of course to our wonderful tour guide, Russian Elena for the amazing job she's done with all of us over the last week.

So tonight we spend our last night in Russia. This is just the first leg, the first quarter of our trip. It's been so wonderful already, such an amazing experience.

It's been amazing to be able to read signs, understand announcements on the metro, to order food and live in the city, even if just for a few days. I can really see how total immersion can help you to learn a language and a culture. I think I've fallen in love.

До сведания, Россия. Я люблю тебя. Я вернусь!!
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