Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 21, 2012 St. Petersburg, Russia

July 21, 2012  St. Petersburg, Russia

Today was Catherine’s Palace followed by another Palace whose name I’ve already forgotten.

We arrived an hour early and while our guide always tells us "everything is possible in Russia," she also never stops reminding us that "Russia is unpredictable."  So, we spent our hour walking the gardens..

Back at the palace...

Wait, here they are in moving pictures...

Inside the Palace, cover your feet..

Truth be told, we’re kind of (OK, we are) palaced-out.  They are stunning buildings, huge, dressed in gold, immaculately decorated.  They are also packed with people.

(“17,000 people tour here every day,” our guide reminds us when we look a little irritated. Then, she tells us we are lucky it isn’t 40 degrees (centigrade) or 30 below…) .  We walked through room after room after room after room after room. Get the idea?   We learned about all the czars, even one that was “fat and ugly” despite the official portraits which had the 18th century version of photoshop.  We learned about another who choked on a piece of ham.

The second palace..

Lunch at a gorgeous park..

By the afternoon, a mutiny was brewing on the bus, with our lead family asking if we all wanted to go on a palace strike tomorrow, substituting a tour of the Great Synagogue instead.  It was unanimous!  Tomorrow, we see an exhibit on the death of Rasputin, then to the synagogue, then a church….then shopping since its our last day.

We had our “farewell dinner” tonight, despite the fact that it isn’t yet the last night of the trip. 

At the end of the meal, we all went around sharing highlights of the week, which was a wonderful way to wind down this part of the trip and this group.  Most of all, we are all full of gratitude for the fact that 23 people traveled 8,000 miles to celebrate this simcha.

After the dinner, the four of us headed to a café for dessert.

 I put down the equivalent of a $33 bill to pay for very little (see photo above).  It wasn’t enough.  Turns out that a ½ liter bottle of water costs $12…and that, I learned, is what it costs all over St. Petersburg.  What was even more startling was that we were the only non-Russians in the café which means that this isn’t an overpriced tourist café… 

Back to the ATM one more time..

The girls fell asleep the moment their heads hit the pillow.  Mine will as soon as I get…zzzzz

1 comment:

  1. Hello Mr. Dollinger: WE are planning a roots trip to Galicia in early June, and have also arranged via Helise at the Jewish Heritage INstitute to use Jakub Lysiak as a guide and driver -- for just one day. Can you share with me your opinion of his services? Thanks -- ellen muraskin,