Monday, September 19, 2016

suspend the superlatives

none of them suffice for the wonder of the city as a museum - the city center is a gem that rewards your eyes at every turn.  We arrived in the early morning and awoke to the sight of a church dome gleaming in the morning light across the river... but it is nothing compared to the incredible onion domes of the Church on Spilled Blood-

the view from our cabin balcony that morning (below) and Spilled Blood domes above-

after breakfast we gathered to do a city tour and stop at St Isaac's Church (located across from the hotel we stayed in for eight nights last time) a favorite of Phil's- and a pit stop at a souvenir store (LOL "they don't mind if we use the toilets and they are clean...") Then across the river and a photo op stop across from the Hermitage.  Our day is planned around entering the Hermitage just after an early lunch so we can beat the afternoon crowds - the big cruise ships go in the mornings apparently and then the rest of the world in the afternoon LOL  So, we hope to time it so we are somewhere after the cruise ships and before the rest of the world.  

the dome of St Isaac from outside and interior views- 

the souvenir store - tough to pass up these hats but since we don't do winters anymore we had to say Nyet!

came close to inquiring about the pricing on this painting in a gallery but somehow kept myself under control LOL

we leave the souvenir - toilet store and go across the river- thought you might like to see a STOP sign in Cyrillic...

a view across the Neva towards the Hermitage side

the Peter and Paul Fortress-

then it was time for our early lunch - which we had in a lovely restaurant called PECTOPAH (RESTAURANT) - beef stroganoff and borscht and celery salad and mille feuille for dessert 

then we rushed to the Hermitage and barged to the front of the line (turned out our time was earlier than the group waiting at the rope so we got to go ahead LOL)

the Hermitage is a perfect example of the museum as a museum every gallery of this museum (Winter Palace) is a work of art in itself.  I might actually say I find the museum itself as enticing as the art works it contains- stunningly beautiful buildings...

the Grand Staircase entrance hall - 

gallery after gallery of gold and crystal- and although there are people here it is not as crowded as it was on our last visit - but then we were here at the peak season in a peak year - the 300th anniversary and white nights (June 21st and summer solstice)

this is an interesting gallery - the war dead - and if the person didn't have a portrait painted before their death in battle then a space is held by the framed green blank-

look up - look down- even the floors are works of art!

a view from a window between buildings-

and yes they have Rembrandts!

and here is the quintessential museum photo - whether it be in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or a Monet or in the case below a Michelangelo- followed by the wikipedia photo of the crouching boy so that you can actually see it LOL

and just to prove my point - LOL

anyway- we spent a number of hours there and Phil opted to stay and extra hour to 90 minutes to revisit some galleries which he said he had all to himself that late in the afternoon. As before we were reminded of Stendhal Syndrome- like the Louvre - this is a place best taken in small bits over several days - and our recommendation would be to go closer to closing time as the crowds do thin out....

The next day another massively popular sight is on our schedule - Peterhof Palace - where the ship has paid double to get us (along with only a few thousand others) on the day the palace is closed to the public (LOL- not sure how they define "public" since clearly there were plenty of people there LOL but more on that later - because this post is already quite photo stay tuned- 

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