Too much to write down!
21.02.2014 -2 °C
This is a fascinating place. The cars are all covered in a thick coat of grey dust, the palaces are the most glittering of Europe (and we have seen a few) and the streets are so wide its hard to believe they were made so long ago. We arrived via Berlin Air and walzed through passport control with no problems, it was actually harder to get out of Germany than get into Russia. The Novotel is great - mostly because it has tea making facilities in the rooms Yay!
Breakfast once again a fabulous array of the usual plus meats, fish, and various other delights.
We met Lidmila our guide and set off through the traffic to Pushkin, an outer suburb where we find Tsarsky Seloe - the Tsar's summer palaces. The traffic is thick, the road rules are apparently non existent and there are no lane markings! And every corner has a statue of lenin or some pther revolutionary heroe and every square seems to be called Victory Square! We make it through unscathed and find ourselves in the huge park surrounding the palace of Catherine the Great (wife of Peter the first) and it is truly amazing. Due to the damage it suffered through the war they have spent the last 40 years restoring it and it is superb - I have never seen so much gold leaf in my life!! The grounds are huge and dotted with spare palaces, follies and lakes. We had a nice stroll through the snow (very Dr Zhivago) and saw the first squirrel of the year.
Lunch was had in a place called the Smile cafe - was like a children's play house and we had Blinis with honey and creme fraiche, soups and Mel had a purple salad.
After a lot of miming of death, dying and other dead body type stuff we managed to get through to Lidmila that we wanted to go to a graveyard. She took us to the holy woman (insert russian name) church which was surrounded by a huge cemetery, we went into another church there which was full of the locals lighting candles kissing paintings and walls and donating food to the poor (read priest) It was a bit like a whole lot of very short old russian women doing stations of the cross. Mel made friends with some elderly women who gave her a holy relic and a set of instructions for good places - in russian. Both these churches and the graves around the outside were fascinating/ We had a drive around the island off St Petersburg - it looks a bit like Paris and the seine - has an English places side and a university side and then we went to the supermarket - just for fun ( and a bit of milk) Again a great way to see what the locals are up to. Basically it was like a huge costco with about half given over to alcohol of all kinds and a bit to clothes and a bit to food. Plenty of caviar and other ruskie delights - and cheap!
We came back home for a quick Olympics fix and then manda won the I had Borscht first prize! A bottle of Italian pino Grigio to help it down and now we are all in bed - ready for another big day!