St. Petersburg Day 3

Days 21: St. Petersburg Sightseeing: Plenty of time in St Petersburg to get acquainted with the fascinating history and way of life. Our sightseeing tour includes the great Winter Palace, the incredible Hermitage Museum; visit Petrodvorets with its palaces, parks and fountains. And for a taste of local flavour, anyone for caviar and a vodka chaser? (Breakfast and Dinner included)


Hotel: LDM Ulitsa Professora Popova

Breakfast: 8:30 Bus departs: 9:00

The Niet Niet Ladies at the hotel had struck, apparently they had a substitute Niet Niet Lady and she wouldn’t give the room cards back, Maggy was able to fix it before we left. Is it really that hard to exchange pieces of paper for room keys? While the hotel seemed to be pretty clean, the water definitely had an odor to it, you definitely could not brush your teeth here, and you had to keep your mouth closed in the shower. But at least I had a shower in my room, Scandinavia made me appreciate that.
Our first stop of the morning was a photo stop at the Arora Battleship. During the war with Japan there was a 45 minute sea battle in which 45 Russian ships were lost, the only to survive was the Arora. Next was Peter and Paul Fortress, resting place of the Tsars.

The bodies of Nicholas II’s family were found in 1991 and were given a state funeral, by 1998 DNA testing showed a 98.5% chance that the bodies were Nicholas II, Alexandra, Tatiana, Olga, and either Maria or Anastasia. The bodies of Alexei and Anastasia have not been found.

Once at the Fortress we went inside the Cathedral, Anna showed us the tombs of the Tsars and explained about the Cathedral. There was a lot of construction inside, they were bringing the body of one of the Romanov wives from Copenhagen and they were setting up for her tomb. They seemed to be preparing the whole cathedral for the event. We also saw the room where Nicholas’s family is interred, 2 places are left blank for Alexei and Anastasia. Our last stop in the Cathedral was to listen to the choir, they were truly amazing signers. I would have bought their CD, except it was 20 or 25 euros and I didn’t foresee myself listening to it much.

After Peter and Paul fortress we had a stop at the Faberge Egg store. Tsar Alexander III started the tradition of purchasing these for his wife for Easter each year. Tsar Nicholas II would continue this tradition by purchasing them for his wife and mother. I purchased an egg charm for myself, it opens up and inside is a basket of flowers, this would be my big purchase of the trip, and a lovely one at that. I also got my mother an egg with a carriage inside, mom deserved something nice.

At 11:40 we were dropped off near the Nevsky Prospect McDonalds and had free time till 1:30. Today we had KFC for lunch, the workers hear understood enough for us to order. We ended up with enough time to not really do anything other then walk down Nevsky Prospect a bit. Our 1:30 meeting today was for our tour of the Hermitage, which I was very excited to see.
The reason we went to the Hermitage today instead of yesterday is that yesterday there were 5 cruise ships in town and the place would be mobbed, this is the value of having a tour guide. As excited as I was I was literally falling asleep standing up and walking, that would explain why I was walking like a drunk and bumping into people. It was kind of bazaar, but I do remember seeing many of the rooms in the Winter Palace and some of the famous works of art throughout the museum, I’m glad I got a book on the Hermitage. From what I remember it was a remarkable place with all the formal gold and jewles you might imagine. After the tour I decided not to continue walking around the museum for obvious reasons. I decided to find the internet and write home instead. Well I waited on line for 15 minutes at a coffee shop counter to buy 20 minutes of internet. The guy in front of me complained to some woman who had cut the line, she just showed her Hermitage id, said she worked there and gave the look of death. When I got to the cashier I was told they couldn’t sell anymore time because they were closing in 15 minutes, NIET NIET!!!!! I must have given her the look of death because she called over the manager who explained it again. I swear, I almost jumped over the counter and strangled someone. It made me very cranky for a while, but I was able to save other people from wasting 15 minutes of their time on line, at least there was that.

We walked around a bit, saw some brides (these were not the first brides we saw in St. Petersburg, we had seen at least one everyday we were here) and walked over to the Church of the Spilled blood and a miracle happened, I actually bought a matryoska doll, yea! I even bargained for it. She tried to sell me another one that wasn’t as nice since it was closer to my price range, but I liked the one I picked out much better.

At 5:00 we were picked up and taken to two photo stops, St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral and the palace where Rasputin was assassinated. Rasputin became a fixture with the Tsar’s family and many believed he was really controlling the Tsar’s decisions, some thought he was the Tsarina’s lover too. In December 1916 those loyal to the Tsar thought he had too much power and assassinated Rasputin. They tried to poison him, but that didn’t work so they shot him. When he was still moving after being shot they clubbed him and dragged him to the Neva River and threw him in – the cause of death was drowning.

From there we went to Moo Moo’s for dinner. The restaurant is named after a Russian story about a dog named Moo Moo. The short version: Moo Moo rented a room from a Russian woman who did not like dogs. One day she took the dog, tied a brick to him and threw him in a lake drowning him, poor Moo Moo. From there we went to the Russian Folklore show.

Most of us were a bit ambivalent about this part of the Russian Optional package, but everyone seemed to enjoy the folklore show. During the show they did audience participation, and one of the woman in the show had been eyeing Fraser all night. Fraser tried to get Corey to switch with him so Fraser could be a row closer and right next to the stairs. Not sure what why Corey wouldn’t switch with him, but it really pissed Fraser off. I could see why he wanted to switch, but I’m not sure what the big deal was. Fraser did get pulled up on stage anyway, and seemed to have a great time up there. During intermission they had fruit, Champaign and caviar. I was almost tempted to try the caviar, just to say I did it. Marie said it was good. But then Kate tried it, I was almost gagging just looking at her trying not to gag on it. After she got it down she proceeded to explain how all the little eggs exploded in her mouth, yuck! I didn’t try it, and doubt I ever will. On the bus back Maggy played our day song, Rasputin, for us, and Fraser danced…

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