Friday, July 27, 2007

St. Petersburg

Our time in St. Petersburg has been very enjoyable. We have experienced beautiful weather and have had no glitches. There are so many beautiful buildings and nice parks and green belts. In two days there has been just enough time for a sampling.

The first morning we had a walking tour. As with all the walking tours we've had, it gave us an orientation and the guide answered questions and gave suggestions as to which sights are the very best.

Ruth and I then went back to the room for showers and naps. In the afternoon we went out walking. We walked through a couple of shopping areas. It was fun to compare the prices and what was available to other cities we have visited as well as what we would find at home. We ate supper at what is supposed to be the best bakery in St. Petersburg. We had some pizza-like dishes plus splitting a piece of cheesecake and what we thought was carrot cake but turned out to be more like fruitcake. All were delicious.

We returned to our room by 9:30 but it was full daylight and the streets were still full of people with many stores still open. The sun does not set until around 10:30 and rises around 4:30.

Yesterday we had a nice breakfast at the hotel(included with the room)and then walked to the Hermitage. Because we had the tickets that Carol and Derek were not using, we could bypass the big line and go directly into the museum. The place is huge so we knew we would just see a small fraction. We went through the Russian Art exhibit and then saw some various other European Art exhibits. I especially enjoyed seeing many Renoir paintings. We also enjoyed just looking at the palace which housed the displays.

We next walked to the river to catch the hydrofoil out to Peterhof. We had a 40 minute ride and then had time to explore the grounds surrounding a palace. This was Peter the Great's answer to Versailles and was very beautiful. We sat on a bench and had a picnic lunch we had packed. We didn't have time to tour the palace but enjoyed the grounds with their fountains and stuatues very much. Then it was time to return to the city on the hydrofoil.

Our next activity was attending a Russian folklore performance. We saw dancing, singing, and musical acts. The costumes were gorgeous and was very enjoyable. It also felt good to sit. We then walked back to the hotel stopping for a late, light supper.

It was a banner day for seeing wedding parties out taking pictures. This is something we have seen in every city since Ulaanbaatar. Apparently the tradition is for the bride and groom and some amount of entourage to take photos at beautiful spots in the city following the wedding. Ruth and I got to saying, "Bride Alert" and there would be another group. We saw them in the city and out at Peterhof. We saw a total of 19 groups! The cars or limos are often decorated with flowers and two gold rings. I think the first one we saw in Ulaanbaatar got posted earlier. I will post some more as soon as I am able. (Niel is at Holden Village so I can't just send pictures to him and have him post them. I was going to try myself but I haven't been at a computer that has directions in English for several days.)

We leave in about an hour for the airport and then on to Warsaw. It will be a 20 hour stay in Poland but we will make the most of it. Then tomorrow we will fly to Chicago. It has been a great trip but will be good to get home also. I am looking forward to seeing Niel!
I hope to post again soon with the Poland story.

Welcome back!! Byrna
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