2 Days Back in St. Petersburg

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Advice, Europe, Review, Russia, St. Petersburg, Story

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Traffic jams as the city prepares for Victory Day. The Victory in WWII is celebrated in Russia every May 9. This day marks the significance of St. Petersburg’s strength as it endured 872 days of the Seige and never gave up to the enemy. It was awarded the title of Hero City for this act of bravery.

Day 1

What a blessing to be back in St. Petersburg, Russia. We arrived just as they were preparing for their most important event – May 9 marks the city’s Victory Day. In its relatively short history – the city is younger than New York – St. Petersburg has witnessed the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, three shattering revolutions, and civil war. Their most significant – Victory Day commemorates how they survived a long and tragic siege during World War II. Indeed St. Petersburg has become a symbol of Russian resistance to Nazi invasion.


Russia’s “Window on the West,” St. Petersburg remains one of the world’s most beautiful metropolises. Perched on the banks of the Neva, the city is crisscrossed by canals. The rich architecture is a mixture of styles from ornate Russian Baroque churches to neo-classical palaces. St. Petersburg has also been the cultural soul of Russia, a repository of priceless art and a home to poets, musicians and composers. 

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The resultant palace, completed in 1756, is nearly 1km in circumference, with elaborately decorated blue-and-white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters designed by German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the palace’s original interiors. In Elizabeth’s reign it took over 100kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors, an excess that was deplored by Catherine the Great when she discovered the state and private funds that had been lavished on the building.
Further on in the Catherine Palace, the most noteworthy interiors are those in the so-called Cameron Rooms, the suites decorated in the reign of Catherine the Great by her favourite architect, Charles Cameron. His penchant for classical symmetry and his superb taste for colour are evident in the charming Green Dining Room, originally fitted for Catherine’s son Paul, and the delightful Blue Drawing Room, with its blue-and-white painted-silk wallpaper and superb painted ceiling. More flamboyant but equally charming, the Chinese Blue Drawing Room also boasts exquisite painted-silk wallpaper featuring intricate Chinese landscapes.


We missed the Catherine Palace during our first visit so it was our primary objective to experience Rastrelli’s grandeur most especially the famous Amber Room. We fascinated on Empress Elizabeth’s lavish lifestyle then as we strolled past ornate walkways and grand halls. Everything was tacky excessive yet intricately put together. The whole experience was transcending. The lush gardens – 1,400 acres of it – was as a reflection of the Tsars’ “larger than life” standards. 


Such was a feast to our senses, we then enjoyed lunch at local restaurant. We were treated to a sample of favorite dishes including Russian wine, vodka, red caviar as we were entertained by a traditional Russian folk group. The mood was festive – happier after those shots!

 

The rest of the afternoon was a leisurely City Drive revisiting landmarks we toured in detail before. A great way to update our albums and picture frames – as our families grow in pride 🙂

Day 2

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The Palace Square was crowded with participants and spectators of the Victory Day Parade. The Russian Infantry was preparing for their Military Exercise. It would have been a sight to behold – we just heard the mock explosions while we were inside.

With over three million artworks to discover, A day at the Hermitage Museum is obviously not enough. And so it was a must for the whole family to pay homage to this National Treasure – rival the Louvre. 


How many thousand steps did we cover – I wonder – as we explored the Tsar’s Old Winter Palace plus four other buildings. It was a morning of intense Art and History appreciation, which worked us up an appetite. Our brains were overloaded, we needed to recharge and revive with another kind of favourite therapy – Retail. 


People watching and shopping along Nevsky Prospekt.

 

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