Peterhof, Pushkin & Pavlovsk Palaces

Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
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Trip End Aug 10, 2007


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Flag of Russia  , Sankt-Peterburg,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Tsars' main palace in central Saint Petersburg was known as the Winter Palace, partly because they built some other humble abodes outside the city to spend their summers.  They also built a few notable country palaces for their advisors and lovers, as well.  I visited the big three - Peterhof, Pavlovsk, and Pushkin (also called Tsarkoe Selo) -on two daytrips out from Saint Petersburg.

Both these days were like something out of "Amazing Race" for me, since I had to use four different kinds of public transportation to take them all in, armed only with a Lonely Planet guide and the directions from a local English tourist publication.  My transport modes were Metro, Electrichka (the slow regional trains with rock hard wood seats), Mshrutka (mini-vans that run on regularly scheduled routes), and local busses.  This was all extremely confusing even though I've mostly figured out what sounds the Cyrillic letters correspond to.  The locals, though, were extremely helpful pointing out where to catch the bus or the correct train platform, writing down the bus numbers I needed to take, telling me where I needed to get off the bus.  Of course, I didn't understand anything they were saying, but I got the message.  I've noticed already that Russians are much more outgoing and eager to help out than the very reserved people in the Baltic countries I just came from.

That doesn't mean, though, that all service comes with a smile in Russia.  While I've experienced a lot of western style quick service in restaurants and stores, you do still frequently encounter people to whom you're just an annoyance as a customer, someone who's actually going to cause their jobs to involve more than just sitting and occupying space.  An example of this service with a scowl was a breakfast attendant named Valentina at the first hotel of the tour in Saint Petersburg who was clearly flustered by having to deal with such a large group and not happy about it.

"May I have another cup of coffee?" I asked.

"No, onlee one cup.  You have more toomorrow!"
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