When I was 12, I babysat on Friday nights for a family who lived 3 doors down from our house. Because I was a slightly weird child (and remain a very weird adult) I use to watch 20/20 on Friday nights. This show had a big impact on me. First it made me think I wanted to be a journalist (which one year in journalism school taught me it didn't), and second, it made me fall in love with Russia. They did a show on treasures inside the Kremlin. I was hooked. I became a little Russia obsessed. While over the years that obsession has decreased, my desire to see Russia has not. The entire point of this adventure was to spend two days in St. Petersburg, to make my dreams come true. (Number one on the bucket list is to stand in Red Square in Moscow, but we are pretty darn close!) [Note: Russia was never a place the Man wanted to visit, but he went because it was my #1 place].
I am not a crier by any means, but I will say, when we stepped off the ship and onto the dock in Russia, I sobbed. I realized I still had to go through immigration, so I pulled myself together as being the sobbing person there was likely not going to help. Russian immigration is intimidating enough! I spent the next 2 days in a state of awe. The Man kept asking me if I was ok, or what I thought, and I nicely told him to leave me alone and just let me be in Russia. It is not every day you get to live a dream you have had for 31 years! Even now, as a prepare this post about 1.5 months later, I feel the emotions swell up!
Most of the pictures I am going to show over the next at least 3 travel Thursdays, are going to be of the Russia of my dreams. The palaces of the Tsars. This is what our tour showed us. However, we did see a little bit of the city that was not the land of the Tsars, it is the life of Russians. I tried when possible to snap a few pictures of this too. Because while I was living my dream, I am very aware of the state of this country. However, these blog posts are not going to be the place I explore my thoughts on this.
|An apartment building|
Our first official stop was to river, where we got to make our wish to a cat. Legend has it if you rub the cats tongue as you whisper in his/her ear, your wish will come true. (You will note ear pieces in these pictures, that is so we can hear our guide. We were a group of 14).
|The Man's wish|
|Touching the Neva|
|Morning sun on a an usually sunny day|
|My one dislike in Russia was the crowds. It has become a very trendy place to travel and we went at peak tourist season (something we won't do again). Our guide was wonderful at helping us navigate this.|
Next we were off to the Church of The Savior on Spilled Blood. It has this name as it was the place where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881.
The interior of the church is covered with over 7500 square meters of mosaics. All the art inside is made of tiny tiles.
|From the back|
|A remaining statue of Lenin|
|Because it amused me|
Our first stop after lunch was the Catherine Palace. Much of this palace has been rebuild due to damage from WWII. It is famous for the Amber Room which has been reconstructed and is the one place in the palace you can't take pictures. To see it and learn about it, click HERE.
The palace is in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) 30 km out of St. Petersburg. It was the Tsars summer residence.
|Our tour group wearing the cool booties|
|This is what I love about the Tsars - over the top beauty!|