Memories of St. Petersburg
Russia is a country that many expect that they won’t like. That always seems to be the case on tours we’ve lead, in large part because of the negative press that a post Cold War Russia still seems to get. So there’s always a special thrill that first time someone walks onto Red Square, or stares at St. Basil’s Cathedral, or talks to your average Russian, and on and on. Over a very short time that alien land becomes captivating, and so it was with this recently completed tour. That’s how it is with Russia if you give it half a chance.
Of course, St. Petersburg, that great “Venice of the North” can sell itself, and so it did on this recently completed TourMagination trip. There were highlights along the way, such as:
-evening walkabouts in the White Nights, whether in search of Putin’s childhood home (we found it, a short stroll from our hotel) or along the numerous canals that make up this city.
-city concerts and theatre performances, which many in our group took advantage of during our days in this great Imperial city. Folk dances to opera and ballet to symphony: they are all here and waiting for you.
-Art Galleries, for which the world-renowned Hermitage/Winter Palace stands out. What can go wrong with a room full of Rembrandts, including the “Return of the Prodigal Son”, or the da Vinci paintings, or the Dutch masters, and on and on. Mary and I always think that one should ignore the Art on a first visit, and focus instead on the great Imperial spaces that made up this palace, from the Throne Room to the Jordan Staircase to the 1812 Gallery.
I’ll close off here, for now, but hope in the next couple of days to comment yet on a few other sights we saw, of which none might matter more than the many rides we took on public transit, when we walked among Russians and observed their rich humanity. But I’ll still want to comment on a conversation at the Piskarevskoe Cemetery, and visits to the Peter Paul Fortress and Peterhof.