Should we rename as the Chandelier tour?
20.02.2014 - 25.02.2014 4 °C
There are certain icons that are top of the list to see in St P and I believe we have successfully covered them. Cathedral of the Spilled Blood, Isaac, Kazan to name just some of the incredible ones we have seen - The Spilled Blood is huge and is entirely covered inside in Mosaic art ( I was a bit slow and thought they were paintings - thats how good they are!) Everywhere you look there is the glitter of a gold dome or cross and the streets are littered with huge buildings. Everything here is just massive!
We popped off to the Ballet at the Mariinsky theatre and both the venue and the production were fabulous although I did find some amusement in the costuming. ( La Bayadere is about an Indian princess and her Rajah so it was a little disconcerting to see what looked like red indians - complete with tom toms! Luckily no teepees ha ha.)
Melanie is now pretty fluent in Russian and can read her way around the city - I can recognise Blini, Vodka and restaurant - so i have the basics organised!
We have walked the major squares and parks, marvelled at the frozen Neva river and agreed that we are not tempted to buy local clothing - its a bit cheap chinese meets 1979 - although not cheap!. It seems actually quite expensive to live here - we have done a supermarket shop as well as a locals shopping centre and there are not many bargains to be had. Sad the Olympics are over as we were enjoying that - always good to be in the winning country.
A highlight of yesterday would have to be the vodka museum - Mel enjoyed the black bread, lard and fish snack that accompanied the three shots of tasting vodka - manda and I kept our lips firmly buttoned - although we did taste the vodka.
It has been handy having Lidmila to drive us around as you see a lot when you cruise about on your way to the next Cathedral - we stumbled into an orthodox service going on in one and it was really interesting - a gloomy candlelit atmosphere with chanting male priests, a wonderful choir and again a lot of older russians milling around bowing and crossing themselves - all were standing as there are no pews and they carry on while the tourists check out the surrounds!
We walked down Nevsky Prospekt and went to dinner in a restaurant which promised traditional Russian food (and delivered) What we didn't bargain on was the sudden habit of the waitresses to pop out onto the floor and do a quick Russian folk dance! Dead bears and a moose on the walls and a lot of cheering locals as we won yet another gold medal!
The sun came out today which we gather is quite rare - spring is usually grey according to Lidmila with lots of rain - we have been lucky with a bit of snow, a lot of grey but only a sprinkle of rain.
We do the Hermitage tomorrow which we are all looking forward to and then off to Stockholm tomorrow night. Just as we are getting our Russian straight we have to learn Swedish!
Russia is a great place to visit - magnificent monuments and palaces and cathedrals and museums, amazing streetscapes and surpisingly easy to get around. Not much of Red russia left - the western influence has well and truly crept in. But russian history is alive and well as at every corner there is a monument to the revolution - the only question to ask is which one?