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Europe

St Petersburg, Russia

The first day in St Petersburg, Russia was when we were fortunate enough to listen to former Russian President, Mikhail Gorbachev, give a speech. Of course, he had a translator, however it inspiring to hear a man who did so much for his country, for his world. I was interested in his current world and politic view. It was quiet the treat to see and listen to such an historical icon who helped lead the USSR reform.

That evening, and after unpacking at the hotel, we attended a Ballet performance of Black Swan at the famous Hermitage Museum theater. It is one of the oldest theaters in Russa and was build by Catherine the Great around 1785. I cant believe it’s still there in one piece! The hermitage was at one point St Peter I’s  winter palace. I enjoyed the ballet, although it was a bit long with two intermissions.

On Saturday Sept 10,  I explored the famous, and most popular European Museum, The Hermitage Museum is also the former Winter Palace. It’s huge. I was at it for about three hours and probably only saw about 10% of it, if that. It was incredible though and I can understand why it’s so renowned.  Each room has a a story of the past with it and are uniquely decorated. When you walk in you come to this large marble stair case with sculptures on the wall and gold decorations. It’s impressive. I felt like I was in the castle of Beauty and the Beast. Amazing that things like that, found in all Disney movies, actually exist. Of course, that’s what I’m starting to realize about all of Europe, it helped create Disney. In the Hermitage I was brought back to my college art history course. For the first time I saw paintings by some of the best artist- Monet, Van Gough, Leonardo Divinci, etc. I couldn’t believe the fine art collection, definitely the highlight of the morning!

In the afternoon I visited Peter & Paul’s Fortress, a small building with a tall golden steeple object, very vibrant, and can be seen all over St Petersburg. Besides the gold steeple, the rest of the outside was not that scenic. I was surprised to see many newly wed brides walking around and getting photographed though. I guess its considered a very beautiful part of Russia? The inside of the fortress was beautiful. The interior was decorated with walls of white, minty green, light pink, and of course some gold. It is here some famous bodies and coffins remain.

I also saw St. Issac’s Cathedral, which in my opinion was unimpressive and just another church. It is  the 4th highest domed cathedral in Europe though, and had an elegant stain glass wall. Through the quick weekend in St Petersburg I also visited the Summer (right photo) and Winter Palace (left photo). The summer palace was primary the residence of Elizabeth around 1744. The two elegant palaces, colorful, with insides the look remind me of everything I’ve seen in Disney movies, especially Beauty and the Beast– grand staircases made of marble, fine paintings, rooms made with gold, royal red thrones, long tables for eating, mirrors, and everything else. The gardens were especially profound with trees cut like Alice in Wonderland style, bright colorful flowers of all sorts, and unique fountains in various areas. WOW. What a treat.

SO much history, so many buildings, so much to remember…enjoy some photos….

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