Wednesday, 29 September 2010

An overdose of Russian grandeur

All I can say is WOW and double WOW!! It started with the Hermitage museum and concluded with a canal cruise..........
 The crowds lining up for the Hermitage were horrendous!! Our group was booked in 
for 10.30 so at 10.20 we waited in the entrance. A very stern guard chucked us out in the
freezing cold because apparently we were booked in for 10.32 and no sooner!!
 I cannot put into words how amazing the experience was. I took over 250 photos today and I think 190 were in the Hermitage! So many floors, ceilings, walls and quilt designs to last me 5 lifetimes!

 Gold, gold and more gold

 Ahhhh......a quilt!

 And then two cathedrals.......looking up and up......

 The glass mosaics were breathtaking (above a detail of these mosaics)

 So then a canal, so cold (maximum of 9 degrees today)
 So a Russian vodka to warm us up!
 We could see why it is known as "Little Venice"
Tomorrow takes us to Novgorod and then Moscow

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

First impressions of St Petersburg

Our journey into Russia was full of mixed emotions - partly due to our trepidation with thoughts of a society that has gone through oppression for so long. The architectural facade is truly spectacular as you will see by my images but underneath all of this there is a sense of anarchy. One wonders how the system and people have coped with the change that has come to them so rapidly. I fear it hasn't. There is evidence of confusion with no proper systems in place. To start with the driving is simply chaotic - there is no regulation so cars drive anywhere, park anywhere and take frightening risks as we witnessed on many occasions today! But despite that there is wonder at the sights.....
 When we first arrived we saw buildings in disrepair. Our bus then took us to this destination and informed us this was our accommodation - some on the bus thought she was serious (!!)
 Peter and Paul Cathedral within the fortress
 Palace embankment and the Hermitage at day and at night........

 Peter the Great (tyrant)
 Palace Square day and night...........

Cathedral - "Our Saviour on the spilled blood" day and night......
 And below - I even found some Morris in a window!

Above - this is all I wanted to bring back!

Tomorrow to the Hermitage and Summer palaces (and more) before Novgorod and then Moscow.
Not sure when the next blog will be

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Farewell Finland

This might be my final blog for a while - we have just had our introduction to our 2 week tour.........we've been told that internet access is highly unlikely, we must not drink the water at any time and thieves are everywhere! Border controls can take up to 2 hours each time....but it will be worth it! I am looking forward to many sights especially St Petersburg. Larry is looking forward to the history (he did a post-graduate honours degree in Russian History some years ago). So it is farewell to Finland. What have we learnt..........There are 200,000 lakes, 30 symphony orchestras and it is the home of Nokia. Chidren start school at the age of 7 and education is free - this includes one hot meal a day. There are 2 million saunas for 5 million people and Finn's normally have at least 2 saunas a week. Here are some images from our last walk.........
Just a wall but on closer inspection..........
The lakes will often freeze over in winter and you can drive across some
Below- close-up of a steel structure

So we hope to make contact again soon. Thanks for sharing in our journey so far ......and someone did ask me what type of camera I have (sorry I lost your email). It is not a fancy one but I am very happy with it. It is a Nikon SLR/Digital D3000.