OR OF TZARS AND PALACES and THE HERMITAGE AND ALL THINGS GLITTERY AND GOLD.
“There are five buildings associated with the Hermitage including the Menshikov Palace. I’m going to them all with my plans for the day on a bit of paper clutched in my sweaty fist. I had prepared with military precision how I would attack this day and was sure of making it magnificent and as tourist-free as possible!!” From my diary
TOP TIP: old birds club, while going anywhere in winter, walk on snow rather than the what looks like pavement which is sure to be black ice!!! Don’t rush, enjoy your snow walk workout It’ll stand you in good stead, love the snow and magic and absorb the beauty! Clench your butt cheeks and plod to avoid occasional slippy bits and before you know it your haunches with be like a Russian gymnast!
I had visited thirty years ago and bought my military coat at the time of much change in Russia, so vaguely remembered some sites but specifically in the Winter Palace. The main staircase and what we called the big soap dish for want of a better name for it! I’ll show you in a minute and you’ll see what I mean! This post is long but worth scrutiny if you’re thinking of going.
This also meant I knew how busy it got even in winter so I went for early doors. You can prepay for tickets online but I prefer to go a little early in my capricious way, it allows for calmly enjoying the beauty of a frosty snowy morning in the palace courtyard.
TOP TIP: PLAN YOUR ROUTE TO THE MOST INTERESTING ROOMS AND GO TO THEM FIRST. YOU’LL ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE SO MUCH MORE AS THEY’LL BE MAINLY EMPTY AND YOU’LL BE ABLE TO IMAGINE THE PRIVILEGED LIVES OF THESE FABULOUS ROYALS WITHOUT THE AG OF NOISY TOUR GUIDES ETC. YOU CAN CIRCLE BACK TO THE OTHER STUFF AFTER. THIS GOES FOR ALL THE BUSY MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES YOU GO TO. THERE IS NO SPECIFIC ORDER FOR YOU TO ATTACK THESE VENUES. ON CERTAIN SHOWS YOU’LL HAVE TO GO ONE WAY SO GO TO THEM FIRST THEN HOP AROUND BIRDY TO THE EMPTIER ROOMS.
The outrageous bling is gob-smacking. Rather than me bang on about it I’ll show you some pics and leave you to ponder a trip here. I really think you should come!! There are so many other things on view in other sections that you can peruse at your leisure after the palace rooms. Remember if you follow me then you have a fair old walk to the other side of the river to get to the MENSHIKOV PALACE so don’t burn out. If you have more time give yourself a whole day then trot off to the FABERGE MUSEUM. True I could have seen more but this was a preamble to the TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS so I wasn’t sure about the timing.
The grand entrance is the Jordan Staircase (eye-watering opulence), which leads to to the east wing of the Winter Palace, and the rooms known as the Great Enfilade. These are some of the most majestic spaces in the Hermitage, Imperial Russia and its military might. The Grand Enfilade also contains the Winter Palace Cathedral, the Tsars’ private chapel, and the splendid, pale-blue Alexander Hall, which was also designed to celebrate victory in the Napoleonic Wars.
I MISSED THE PREHISTORIC ART SELECTION WHICH CONTAINS THE SCYTHIAN MASTERPIECES AND YOU SHOULD GO BUT I SAW A HUGE COLLECTION LAST YEAR IN BULGARIA SO I LEFT THEM FOR ANOTHER VISIT!
Goodbye Hermitage and crunch, crunch’ crunch in the snow, over the bridge again to the Menshikov. It’s still snowing but eased off a lot and brilliant blue skies take over to make it all the more magical.
HAPPY, HAPPY ME! GOTTA LOVE THE HERMITAGE AND THE FRESH WALK OVER TO THIS NEXT PORT OF CALL. AS I GO GET THE TICKET THERE ARE NO QUEUES AS I’M AHEAD OF THE TOURS. THEY ARE NOT HERE YET AND ARE LESS IN THIS BITTER WEATHER EVEN THOUGH THEY DESCEND FROM THEIR HEATED COACHES LIKE LOCUSTS STRIPPING ANY PLEASURE FROM THE PLACES THEY VISIT……… DON’T LET ME START ON THE BEAST THAT IS THE CHINESE TOUR GROUP. I WILL RANT ABOUT THAT LATER!
Menshikov was a great pal of Peter the Great so got his own cool pad.
Facetious? Maybe but in essence true. It didn’t stop him being sent to Siberia later for being very naughty one time too many! the Dutch influence is prevalent here so prepare for a lot of blue and white tiles in the rooms including in what looks like a very chilly bedroom.
In the spring of 1703 St Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great by 1712 major institutions were moved from Moscow along with the aristocratic elite. Work carried on at amazing speed due to other building in the country being cancelled and only St Petersburg attended to. Peter spent massively on all kinds of artwork from all over the world. Many food ingredients were bought from Holland for the opulent parties that were held at Menshikov Palace. These were organised by Menshikov himself as Peter had no time, so the extravagant favourite friend ran amok.
No more time to ponder on this very different style of the place, it’ll be getting dark soon and I have a long walk along the river to my hotel. There I’ll have my customary vodka shots in the bar, which is now my office, whilst going through today’s photos and thinking of where to go for dinner!
Very content old bird ready to kip. Goodnight one and all!
OVER AND OUT FROM REBECCA!
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