Kissing the Golden Peacock in St Petersburg

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Where I stayed
Av Caesar on Nevskiy Pr
What I did
Saw the sights

Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

As planned first are the final pics from Moscow
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The train ride was made under clear skies and across great stretches of forrest, rural land and dotted with mostly wooden houses / shacks. The last time I did this train journey was in 1991 and in a much less fast train. I think the trip was either 8 or 12 hours then and the cabin ( with doors) had bench seating while the current Sapsan is streamlined and has seating like in a modern clipper bus ( no sections/ cabins or door except to the carriage itself). 

Overhead there is a screen with a movie and the speedometer currently shows 168 kph and the temperature is 20 C. 

First off but then overwhelmed by the peak hour traffic of people and vehicles. Used the metro to get to the hotel (still a 20 minute walk). In shock we checked in and rushed out inour first taxi ride to the restaurant recommended by Chelsea ( Rec Square from Toronto) - The Idiot. It was fun and the waitress Galina was especially a lot of fun with quips like ..." And the Oscar goes to..." when I said something cheeky or outrageous (not Kalinka as she was quick to point out when I started into song...). Her best response was "...I don't know...". Where did she learn that and would that the rest of the world learn it and save all wanderers a lot of time). Spiceba Calina!

We walked along the Moinka River ( tributary of the Neva???) back to Nevskiy Prospect and made our way back to the hotel in daylight at 2330 ( after a coffee en route and posing in front of St Isaac's, Mac Donald's  etc etc). Big day tomorrow so now sleep!

Time for a whinge...about the hotel. I woudl have thought Euro 100 a night would warrant better. This morning's breakfast was taken in the room as the 4 seater dining room was full. The walls are paper thin and breakfast was like a picnic in the room. Handicapped by a solitary non-English speaking attendant every request for information or directions involves a phone call to the hotel big brother hotel people some distance away. Originally i was booked in the other hotel but agrred to chnage to this one...big mistake in hindsight. Comforting to know we have only 2 more nights.This place is more like a youth hostel, as i recall, from the 60s. Not a scratch on The Shakespeare in Vilnius, to which we will return for the car and our luggage. It's even hard here to get anything in the way of tourist dope in English. We'll simply have to be resourceful and boldly walk into an international hotel and rummage through what they have for guests  and interrogate the concierge. ( Done at the Radisson Royal on the interim return to the hotel for wine, cheese and crackers before wandering out again. She was  most helpful.)

If it tells anything I am currently re-sizing down 114 pictures taken today at The Hermitage & on the boat trip on the Neva and along a number of canals and under quite a few bridges. I think I'll let the pictures talk for themselves.  just a few traveller's comments though. I bought the Hermitage tickets for us on the internet paying US$35 for two. Converting the voucher at the Hermitage I found the price was 390 roubles or Euro10. However, we walked straight past a couple of hundred people queuing to buy their tickets. No brainer for me the value in buying on the internet.

I won't say much about the Hermitage except it's for avid museum/ art gallery lovers and people who have no where else to go. It's exhausting and to see it in less than a week is probably a waste though I prefer to consider myself very discerning, very good at navigating museums and following floor plans, very good at asking questions in all languages, very good at short-cutting, very good at listening to guides speaking English, very good at asking questions of guides who speak English, very good at running up and down stairs, very good at finding the toilet, very good at knowing what art I'm interested in and which is actually in the museum...and many more things. To get through a place like the Hermitage (and the curator is reported to have said..."I won't say we are the best in the world but we are not the second-best.') without crippled feet you need to have all those skills at my age and at Susan's age too. If you want to listen to all the stories and gaze and dwell on the paintings one-by-one you need either a season ticket or a good lawyer to defend your hiding overnight after night. 

With the Monet's and Manet's, the Matisse's, Renoir's, Gaugin's ( the French lot), Van Gough's and da Vincis and all those other Italians and no Australians (Aboriginal or otherwise) or Wahol's  to save themselves it's obviously not the perfect place for all lovers of art. I also didn't see a Dali (and even Valbonne exhibited his works last summer).

We managed to get there at 12 noon and leave at 1515... not enough...pooh pooh! We saw what we could and enjoyed more for seeing less.

Rushing afterwards to the spot to board the river trip we squeezed in buying a hot dog for Susan and a Mega ice-cream and diet Pepsi for me. Rush Rush and then a pleasant restful one hour being shown around while seated.

Did I say that the molting was worse today...I had to wear a handkerchief over my nose like a bank-robber today. I reckon it will catch-on by next molting season. Bloody birds all got H1N1 flu too!

After that (and the pictures can tell more than I can) we searched and found a place to buy wine and cheese at prices a fraction of what we paid last night and with Susan under the blankets (and checking Wimbledon scores on the internet using her notebook) and me writing this we are drinking and eating before summoning the energy to journey to the waters of the Baltic where they wash against the shores of St Petersburg. And on that note thus ended the nightly report from yours truly.  We'll leave soon and that will suit Kenny G and Seal and their ilk due later this month.

Today's sightseeing and wandering produced only 37 pictures...getting better. The Metro here is special as the pictures show. 

An interesting day in which we visited the Baltic sea at the Passenger Terminal...waste of time! We visited the cemetery of the famous dead...a great treat (but the monastery was almost hopeless without a guide or guide book). In the monastery cemetery we learnt the tomb of Peter & Catherine (both the Great) is in Peter & Paul's Fortress chapel (Cathedral more like) which along with the Summer Palace (Peterhof) will be left until our next life. We leave tomorrow back to Moscow for a night and apart from the cranky older Russians and the birds molt everywhere we could easily spend a couple of months here one summer. We'll spend out last night at an Irish Pub watching Wimbledon where the evening ended walking back, after seeing Murray win the 1st set against the Slav Ljubicic, seeing these last sights for the night.

Pictures sorted  now to bed!

  

 



 
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