We arrived in St. Petersburg at about 8:45am, and through minimal language, found a taxi driver, who was very nice, drove us in a roundabout way to our hotel and charged us almost double of what it should have cost. Oh well.
|Ricky on the Balcony|
The hotel that Chris booked is lovely – small European-style (why not, we’re in Europe now!) boutique hotel at a great location on a canal (I had no idea St. Petersburg had so many canals!) and near the main drag, Nevsky Prospekt. We had to wait a few hours before a room was ready, so we grabbed a quick bite in the downstairs café and headed out, like tourists, with maps in hand, to get a lay of the land.
We're at 60 degrees North latitude - the highest we will get on land for this trip.
St. Petersburg shares this latitude with just a few other cities; Anchorage, Oslo. But it is the population king at 5 million people living in this inhospitable climate with just 60 days of sunshine each year. Cold temperatures and a cold, wet wind that blows and blows.
Yet, we are blown away by this city. Because Peter the Great wanted his capital to compete with the cities of Europe, he hired European architects to design and build the city from the ground up. As
a result, with a string of canals running throughout, St.
Petersburg looks like a
cross between Paris and Venice, dotted with minareted (is that a
|Another "Cathedral of the|
We returned to the hotel and checked into our room… For a relatively small amount, we decided to upgrade, to give ourselves a break after our cramped train compartment. They didn’t have a room up one level, so they jumped to two levels for the same price. Frankly, the room we got has probably not been totally updated (although it has a great bathroom). However, the 3
rooms we are staying in are
collectively larger than our condo in Breck.
Easily. The main room has a very
elegant dining table that seats 10, an elaborate inlaid parquet floor (Chris
likes to slide across it in his slippers), grand piano, gothic Adams-family-esque
couch, with chairs, where even Chris could comfortably sleep, a porcelain tea
set, and a gargantuan chandelier descending from the ceiling like the mother
ship at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There is gilt molding on the doors, walls and
ceiling that are reminiscent (I’m not kidding) of the Grand Staircase in the
Hermitage, and we have the only balcony in the hotel - it overlooks a canal and
park. Note: the Hermitage is the winter palace complex
built by Peter the Great in the 1700s. The Grand Staircase is the one section
built in the Rococco style – gold on white, very ornate – THAT’s what our room
looks like. The bedroom is much more
understated in its décor – thank God.
|The Mother Ship|
|The main alter in the Cathedral|
We wandered some more and found a wonderful Georgian restaurant. Chris has a knack
finding great, out of the way places on the fly, and this was no
exception. The folks there were very
friendly to the drenched foreigners coming in out of the rain. White table clothes, cozy atmosphere, and
great food. The Georgians make a walnut
paste and stuff things with it or shape it into patties for appetizers, and
then they do wonderful things with beans and cabbage and a unique blend of
spices – I think one is fenugreek. Chris
had a delicious meat dish with an amazing tomato sauce (I had a taste without
the meat.). With a couple glasses of red
wine, it hit the spot. Great day.