Thursday, September 27, 2018

Travel Thursday - The Baltic Adventure Part 6

Last week, we wrapped up our trip part way through our first day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Today we will finish this day.

Our last stop for our day tour was Peterhof Palace. We only visited the garden of this palace to see some of the 144 fountains, all which work without a pump. According to wikipedia "Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens . . ."

Our first stop at the garden was the washroom. This sign made me laugh hard, so I had to photograph it!

Now to the beautiful gardens. We were blessed with a very sunny and warm day, which is rare in St. Petersburg. 

The palace

The palace

This is my fave picture of myself from this trip

This fountain is a dog chasing ducks

The following fountain use to be surrounded by trees and if a person stepped on a certain step, it would spray. Tourists don't like this, so it sprays all the time now. 

If I hadn't been going out in the evening, I think I would have run under this fountain. 

A friendly reminder that crime awaits, even in a beautiful place like this. We did see these in other countries as well. 

There were benches that were also trick fountains, if you stepped on a spot, they would spray. The kids loved to step on all the spots and play in the fountain. This was something I loved about Europe, that we Canadians really need to relax about. This would be likely not allowed here. 

After a stroll through the gardens we walked down the water edge towards the hydrofoil that would take us back to the city. 

For Rosy, Arty and Jakey's mom

The hydrofoil moved quickly across the water.

One of the Fifa locations

We left our day tour at the dock of the hydrofoil and joined another couple and a new guide for our evening at the ballet. We went to a cafe for dinner. Then we walked to the Alexandrinsky Theatre to see Swan Lake.

That day in St. Petersburg had been a Harley Davidson Rally. All around the theatre was a very eclectic mix of people. There were theatre goers, tourists, families and bikers of every kind, including what I am 100% sure was the Russian mob (no pictures were taken of that for obvious reasons). 

The yellow building in the background of these pictures is the theatre.

This is one of my fave pictures from the trip

I have no words for this except I am glad they didn't take any more clothes off

Also not pictured was the tattoo booth in the street. 

The contrast of this and the theatre is probably the best summary of St. Petersburg. 

Our tickets were 5th row, slightly off centre. The other couple was given first balcony box tickets. I don't understand how this works, but it didn't matter, I was at the Russian Ballet. Each of our tickets cost almost as much as our 2 day tour, but totally worth it. I see this as a once in a life time experience and one I had been waiting so long for. 

Prior to this, I had been to the ballet 3 times. Once as a child to a performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, in Toronto with my grandparents and cousin, once to see the Nutcracker and recently to see Dracula. While the Man will tell you he felt Swan Lake was a little drawn out in places, I thought it was magical. 

The royal box

After the ballet, we were driven back to our ship. The lights of St. Petersburg sparkling. I could barely look out the window at them as it was so overwhelming. We returned back around 11:30. We fell into bed and got a little sleep as we were meeting our tour at 7:15 the next morning for the second day in Russia. Next week, I will share that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Come Laugh With Us - Remembering Madi

In honour of our favourite Diva and cat Madi we join Blogville with a day of laughter.

What could be funnier than 2 dogs telling cat jokes!

Phod: Some of these are so bad Lee, I don't think I can look.
Lee: That is what makes them funny!

Q: There were 10 cats in a boat and one jumped out. How many were left? 
A: None, because they were copycats! 

Q: Did you hear about the cat who swallowed a ball of yarn? 
A: She had a litter of mittens. 

Q: What do you call a pile of kittens? 
A: a meowntain 
Q: What do you call a lion who has eaten your mother's sister? 
A: An aunt-eater! 

Q: What do you call the cat that was caught by the police? 
A: The purrpatrator. 

Q: What did the cat say when he lost his toys? 
A: You got to be kitten me. 

We know the Queen of the Sun puddle will love this last one:

To Madi's people: Thank you for sharing her life and adventures. We hope all the love and laughter today bring joy to your broken hearts. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I Hope The Tooth Fairy Comes - by Phod

Dear pals, 

Pardon me, if this post is a little off, as I am not feeling my best. Yesterday the Lady tricked me. I was excited to go in the car with her. Then we arrived at the V-E-T!  The only good thing about it is I am happy to report I have lost 5 lbs and am at my ideal weight, but am sure I am going to loose more because I am never going to be able to eat again.

I had to have what people call dental work done. I think it is make you feel funny in the head and make your mouth hurt. I had to have my teeth cleaned and have my favourite tooth pulled. 

I have to rest for a few days. I have to take a lot of medicine.

I hope I feel better and I hope the tooth fairy comes, in a few days, when I feel more myself.

(For those who saw about this on Facebook, thanks for all the POTP).

I must rest now.
A very stoned and sore and the saddest boy ever,

From the Lady:
At his annual check up, it was identified that one of Phod's tooth had chipped and the nerve was showing. Although it didn't seem to be bothering him, we did have it removed. The vet reports some other minor cracks. They should not be caused by the playing fetch with our rubber chuck it ball. It is usually caused by tennis balls or other hard things. It is possible some of this damage was done prior to him joining us and it is now just showing up. Now we need to prevent him from chewing hard things and not play fetch with hard things and not play tug at all (not that he really liked that game).

The vet felt the surgery went well. Phod was so tired when he got home, he didn't make it past the front door. It made me think of his first night with us over 6 years ago, when he slept right up against the door. It is now one of his favourite spots.

He will be taking it easy for a few days, but we are sure he will be back to his old self soon.

As Phod is 7, he had to have a blood panel done and they were very happy with the results, which makes me happy!

We thank you all for your POTP.

Hailey is happy to have Phod back and is no longer jealous that he got to go away without her as he smells too funny!

You can see what tooth was taken

The tooth, the red part was under the gum

That little black spot on the top of the tooth is the nerve. 

The antibiotics he has to take - 2 pills twice a day! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mischief Monday - Florence

We are trying to imagine what kind of storm Florence was at her peak, because her tail end packed one heck of a punch to our region. Friday afternoon, 2 tornados hit our area (Ottawa-Gatineau Region), leaving a wake of destruction. The first was an EF-3 and the second an EF-2. As of now, there have been no reported deaths, 6 people are critically injured, and hundreds of homes are damaged and destroyed. 

I got to drive home, slightly east of the worst of the storm at the end of it. It was a wild drive home, with street lights out, downpours, flooding streets, amazing wind. It will probably be my favourite drive home ever, because I am a complete lover of this type of storm. In another life, I would have been a storm chaser. It is a funny thing because I spend most of my life being anxious and afraid of everything, everything except huge rain storms!

As the storm broke

Our place was minimally effected. We lost power for 25 hours. (Others will be days as a transformer blew away). Those who have followed us for a long time may remember when we first moved into this house 6 years ago, we went 72 hours in the winter followed by 95 hours in the summer without power. We then spent $3000 to have a generator panel installed and to purchase a generator. While it can't run the whole house, we have water (we live on a well), the fridge, freezer, and the heat, lights, internet etc. down stairs. We could live quite comfortably for some time.  My ancient iPad (which had been my Dad's) appears to be the only thing damaged during the storm. I had left it charging and I am guessing the power surged when it went out, and fried it. The new one will be here in 3-7 days. 

While the dogs were both a little nervous with the winds and no power, they did great. Hailey slept well once we closed the windows so she couldn't hear the wind as well.

That is how we started autumn at our place!

Hailey chil'axing the morning after the storm

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Travel Thursday -The Baltic Adventure Part 5

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

My wish

Touching the Neva
Next we went to the Peter and Paul Fortress. This is where most of the Russian Royal Family (including the last of the Romonavs) are buried.  The cathedral is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg.

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

Lunch was included on our tour and while I am not one to just take pictures of people eating and food  normally, I was so surprised to see the Man eating Borscht (one of my faves) because he hates beets!

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! 

One of Empress Elizabeth's gowns. She only wore each outfit one time and had over 15 000 dresses. Members of her court were only able to wear an outfit once. After an event, paint would be thrown on them or they would be cut so they could not be re-worn. 

Next week we will start at Peterhof - home to over 144 fountains.