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Garden Palace

On July 10, 2013, Ivan and I woke up at 7:15 am.  We had breakfast in the room and left at 7:40 am.

Our 2nd day of the St. Petersburg Grand Tour started at 8 am.  The first stop was at St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral.  Ivan was sick of cathedrals at this point and only went in for a few minutes.

Lovely gold decoration

I went in, but they were doing the blessing around the church with the ball, so the smell was quite strong and made me want to cough.

Next, the driver took us to Yusupov Palace.  At this palace, you had to pay €5 per person for take photographs and €10 per person to take video.  You’re given a sticker if you paid.  I didn’t pay, but took pictures.   There were Russian ladies in the palace looking at us.  She saw a few people who didn’t pay, but were taking pictures.  So, I stopped taking pictures.

Wax figures were in one room which we thought looked really creepy.  Here’s what Rasputin looked like.

Rasputin wax figure

We learned that people tried to poison Rasputin.  The poison was put into the cookies and wine, but it was too sweet so it didn’t end up killing him.  Felix Yusupov shot him since the poisoning didn’t work.  That didn’t work either.  Vladimir Purishkevich shot him and then they put him in the river to make sure he died.

We saw a rotunda and a blue and red parlor.  The palace is filled with colored themes.

Blue parlor

We stopped at a hall where an a capella men’s choir sang a song called Day & Night.  Their singing was beautiful.

The theatre was quite amazing in this palace.  Sorry, there are no pictures of the theatre.  I didn’t want to be taken in the back room by a mean Russian lady and beaten up.

Our group went to a big souvenir shop where we had time to shop and pay for our tours.  Ivan and I bought a few things.

It was time to take the hydrofoil (catamaran) to the Peterhof.  We were given a packed lunch which was a crepe with cheap cheese, an apple, box apple juice and a chocolate bar.  Ivan and I were happy that we brought two sandwiches that we got from the buffet on the boat, just in case the lunch was bad like yesterday.  Ivan and I fell asleep on the boat after lunch.

Jen & Ivan at the Peterhof

At the Peterhof, we were shown lots of fountains and walked around the lovely gardens.  It was a lovely day to walk around the gardens.

Beautiful fountains at the Peterhof

A lady from our group got money taken from her purse.

Our last stop was the Catherine Palace.

The Catherine Palace

It’s lovely in Baroque style.  We had to put ugly brown covers over our shoes.  It looked like we were going into surgery.

Pretty gold room

It was another beautiful palace filled with great art work on the ceiling and lots of gold on the walls.

Lovely ceiling in the Catherine Palace

The group saw a big 1000 square meters ballroom which was filled with gold.  It was made out of 160 kilograms of gold which was thinly put all over the room.

Beautiful gold ballroom

It could stain and turn black if you touched it.  The ballroom is used for guests.  Our guide told us that the royals live quite modestly in every day life.

One of the rooms had many artworks placed on a wall next to each other with frames separating each one.

Lots of paintings

It was interesting and pretty.

We saw the Amber Room where we weren’t allowed to take pictures, probably since the room is so small.  It’s filled with cut amber all over the room with 8 panels.  People are puzzled to how the amber was cut since it’s very strong.  I think they placed a bunch of amber in a big sack and threw it from the roof of the palace.

The group walked around park of Catherine Palace after our tour.

The driver took us back to the cruise ship and we arrived at 5:30 pm.

Ivan and I headed to the buffet for a slice of margherita pizza, sushi and a soft serve ice cream cone.

We watched an episode of Luther.

Dinner was at 8:15 pm.  I got the delicious tom ka gai soup and shark & langostino fire cracker rolls.   Ivan and I both got the tasty vegetable and black bean enchiladas for our main dish.  We shared the the lovely chocolate melting cake for dessert.

We hung out with The Aussies (Tim & Gabbie) and went to see the juggler Jonathan Stamp.  He’s a great juggler who’s also funny and entertaining.

Ivan thought we should all check out the Mexican buffet.  We walked up the stairs where I noticed one my favorite art works Icarus.  I remember his story since he flew too close to the sun.

Icarus flying too close to the sun

I picked up some dessert at the buffet.

We chatted and played the bean bag game and did well even though we were drinking.

Gabbie, Tim & Ivan

07/9/13
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Art Cathedrals

On July 9, 2013, Ivan and I woke up early at 7:30 am.  The Carnival Legend was docked in St. Petersburg, Russia.  We had room service deliver our breakfast.  Ivan and I had smoked salmon with toast and cereal.  Ivan put the extra Raisin Bran in my bag in case he got hungry later.

In order to go into Russia from a cruise ship, you have to be booked on a tour.  It can be a tour that you booked yourself or through the cruise line.  Ivan booked a tour online since it was cheaper than the one on the cruise ship which is almost always the case.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left at 8 am.  We stood in line for immigration.  20 windows were open, so it went pretty fast.  You have to bring your passport, immigration form and your tour ticket.  Ivan and I went to the The Immigration desk together.  The Immigration agent didn’t say anything and was stone-faced.  She took Ivan’s passport and glanced at Ivan’s paper for the tour.  She stamped his passport.  She barely looked at my tour paper.  I’m sure it would have been easy to book a tour to get the paperwork since you don’t pay until the last day of the tour.

Lil Dave left to go meet up with his cousin Davoff.  Ivan and I met up for The two day Grand Tour with Alla Tours.  We went on the bus which was a total of 15 people including us.

Our guide was a Russian named Vladimir.  We were given headsets, so we could hear what he was saying.  His voice was monotone, so it made you want to go to sleep.

The group’s first stop was at Admiralteyskaya metro station.  This station is 1 year and 7 months old.  We took a long escalator ride down which is 410 feet long.

Long escalator to Admiralteyskaya metro station

There’s a shorter escalator to the station since it’s difficult to build an escalator beyond 410 feet.  We took the train one stop and then came back to Admiralteyskaya.  Ivan and I thought it was pointless doing this since the station wasn’t all that special, the only cool part was the 410 feet long escalator.

Our bus driver drove us to the next stop which was the Hermitage Museum.    We didn’t have to wait and got right in to the museum.  This museum gets a million visitors a year.

Lots of cool art in the Hermitage

You know a museum is going to have some cool architecture and art when the staircase leading to the museum is impressive.

1 1/2 ton bronze chandelier

Vladimir pointed out the one and a half ton bronze chandelier above our heads.

We saw many halls like Peter the Great Hall, St. George Hall and the Da Vinci Hall.

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We would see one hall and you thought Wow, this is wonderful, but then you see another one that’s just as amazing.

The museum got crowded in some areas.

The murals on the ceilings were quite wonderful.

Beautiful art on the ceiling

You really do need a guide to show you all the cool rooms and artwork otherwise you’d be clueless to what you’re looking at.  Vladimir definitely knew his stuff.

Lovely artwork on the ceilings and walls

Our group saw lots of artwork varying in types like Baroque, Renaissance and Russian.  I did listen to what Vladimir said, but sometimes I went off to take pictures.  Good thing I didn’t lose our group.

Vladimir took us to the New Hermitage where we saw statues and art.

Crouching Boy by Michelangelo

Got to see the Crouching Boy statue by Michelangelo and a few paintings by Rembrandt.

The Holy Family with Angels by Rembrandt

It was great to be able to see so much during our 2 1/2 tour of this wonderful museum.  I highly recommend a visit to this museum.

The group was driven to Via Dell’ Oliva for lunch.  The restaurant was pretty inside.  There was coleslaw and bread at the table which wasn’t anything special.  Ivan and I were sitting with an older couple from San Antonio.

A soup was brought out.  Ivan told the guide that we were vegetarian.  No vegetarian soup was brought out as a replacement.

The Texan couple got a chicken breast and a boiled potato for their main dish.  Ivan and I got grilled vegetables.  We think the chef wasn’t very imaginative or Alla Tours is only paying a small amount for our lunches which means a limited, boring menu.

Our next stop was The Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood.  It’s an Orthodox church filled with beautiful mosaics on the walls and ceiling.

Mosaics in The Church of the Spilled Blood Savior

I thought this church was amazing inside and I would have loved to explore it more and take lots of pictures.

The driver took us to the river where we boarded a boat.  Ivan and I sat at the top where we could get a good view of everything.

St. Peter and Paul Cathedral

The commentary said St. Petersburg was modeled after Venice and Amsterdam, so it’s good to see the city by boat.  The boat showed us the sights of St. Petersburg.

It was off to another cathedral, this time it was St. Isaac’s Cathedral.  It’s the 4th biggest church dome in the world.

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The church is filled with classic and baroque art and architecture.  I can tell you one thing.. the Russian artists and architects seem to love to use gold in their work.

Our last stop was at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral.  Many Romanov rulers are buried here:
Peter the Great and his family are buried here, Catherine the Great, all three Alexanders, Paul, Peter III, Anne and Nicolas I and II.

Inside of The Peter and Paul Cathedral

Ivan and I were tired, so I only walked around a bit to take a few pictures.  I did notice a lot of baby angels on the ceiling.

The driver took us back to the Carnival Legend ship.  Ivan and I got back on board at 6 pm.

Later, we went to dinner.  We were supposed to meet up with The Aussies at 8 pm.  Found out that Tim and Gabbie had already eaten, so we thought we’d get assigned to a table with other people.

We sat down with an English couple who live in Wales.  The lady got robbed on the first stop on her tour and she reckons the tour guides were in on it.  A handy tip: If you’re going to St. Petersburg, wear a money belt.

Ivan and I had the black bean soup which was delicious.  Ivan also got a study in sushi which is small, but tasty.

Lisa from dinner came over to talk to us about her boring guide, I guess we weren’t the only ones with a guide who had lots of knowledge, but was boring and monotone.

We both got the delectable baked herb polenta with mushroom ragout for our main dish.  For dessert, we got a cinammon, fig and raising cake which was yummy.

Since we were so knackered (tired), we went back to the room and called it an early night.

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