|Postcard actually bought in Russia|
I was not to be disappointed and in fact wish to return. On arriving at the hotel, we were all upgraded to suites and the week end just went from strength to strength, along with my tolerance for huge quantities of vodka!
So why St Petersburg, well our good friend decided to research and see what we should pop over there and find for ourselves, his top 10, not Lonely Planets was...
After much research..
- Vodka - well derrr..
- Metro - yep - trains and stuff - great.. oh and the architecture..
- Egg - Fab's one not scrambled
- Icon - the goldie painted bits of wood not Beckham
- Icepick - the last thing to go through Trotsky's mind - though I think it's in Mexico not St Petes - shame
- Caviar - with chips & ketchup of course
- DOLL-in-DOLL-in-DOLL-in-DOLL - this only works if this email type font is received correctly..
- Kandinsky - Silly Wassily.. some good ones though
- Bear - preferably dancing in chains but I'm not fussy
- Pavlova - the ballerina who performed 37 turns on top of a Pavlova.. it's true - Wikipedia says so... ah.. no.. it actually says ...on top of a moving elephant.. well that's obviously more sensible
|Getting into the vodka spirit of Russia |
on the flight to St Petersburg
|Russian writing made no sense to me at all, this spells Astoria|
St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 who was out searching for a new spot to build a city when it is said he saw an eagle soaring up ahead whilst boating on the Neva Delta, which was seen as a good omen and so began building. Having been to Europe he was keen to build himself a majestic city and so the foundations of St Petersburg began with the famous Peter Paul fortress built on an island in the river. This was a brilliant strategic place as it allowed blocking of the entrance to incoming enemies.
St Petersburg is a much larger version of Venice, it has canals and rivers running all across it and you are never more than a few feet from water. The buildings are vast and majestic and there is a definite feeling of pride here both imagined from years gone by and now as still a show case for Russia.
We stayed at the Astoria hotel, in itself a historic building having played a part and witnessed much of the last 100 years history of Russia. Opened on 23rd December 1912 it quickly became the place to be seen and socialise. The Tsar and his family dined here and Rasputin brought his married lovers here. Two years later in 1914, St Petersburg was renamed Petrograd and by 1917 the Russian revolution began with much blood spilled on the square in front of the hotel. In 1929, the city was once again renamed to Leningrad and indeed Lenin himself gave a speech from the balcony of the hotel to his trusted supporters below in the square.
Between 1941-43 the city was besieged by the Germans and the hotel became a hospital.
As recently as 1991 the hotel was amidst the failed coup against Gorbachev but it has now been restored to its former glory and has welcomed many minor and major celebrities through it's doors...
|View from St Isaac's cathedral over the square and our hotel on the left|
|The most beautiful elevator|
|Spent many a time in here|
|Afternoon tea Russian style was available every afternoon|
|Not my photo, as I forgot to take one! The |
magnificent Winter Garden room at the hotel,
many a Tsar, Rasputin and Lenin to name but a few have dined here
|Even our bathroom had a nod to Bond, |
which we thought somewhat ironic
|We had to sample different types |
of vodka to get into the 'spirit' of it all, drunk
neat and very chilled, this is Russian style
|'Nostrovia' is cheers in Russian|
|Our hotel right next door to St Isaac|
|Our last day, the weather began to become |
more St Petersburg like
|The columns and sheer size was colossal|
Climbing the 250 plus step in a spiral to the colonnade at the top so we could walk around the drum of the dome was quite a puff but so worthwhile. I quickly dashed off from the others in the pretense to take photos when indeed I really needed to get my breath back, but what a 360 degree view. The blue skies and sun shining on all the gold domes and spires of St Petersburg made the city bright and light and magical. The photos as often is the case just do not do it justice.
|Detail just everywhere|
|Winter palace in the background (green building)|
Inside, St Isaac's was built to allow up to 14,000 worshipers to stand, as with all the buildings in St Petersburg we were to learn that everything was huge. They do not know how to do things on a small scale. Sadly the architect died just 24 days before final completion of the cathedral and despite his wish to be buried here was not allowed as he was not himself Orthodox. Being of French origin he was taken back to France to be buried. Finally in 1858 on the anniversary of the death of Peter the Great, St Isaac's was opened to the world.
|The green columns are made out of malachite and the blue from lapis.|
|For me the green column were just so different and stunning, |
the height at 17 meters is overpowering and each one weighs 114 tons!
We ended the day back at the hotel for a Russian dinner where we were able to tick off a few more on our list...
|More vodka, the Russians always have |
nibbles with each shot, this is
supposed to ensure they do not
get drunk so quickly!
|Borscht, beetroot soup|
|Dumplings Russian style|
|Napoleon cake, very Russian |
but similar to the Norwegian version
Having arrived early afternoon to St Petersburg, we felt we had accomplished a lot on the first day...