Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

the Tsars' treasures

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:19 PM
What looked depressing and sad in yesterday's cloudy weather, the Winter Palace did look a bit brighter this morning up close. Loved that green color. Again had to wait for it to open. what with these Russians. I had to walk all the way back to under the triumphant arch of the General Staff Building and still couldnt get the entire place in 1 frame of my camera. that's how wide this beast was. The Palace square was enormous. Good color contrast from the yellow of the General Staff Building one 1 side and the green Winter Palace on the other. The Aleksander column centered at the square. This place would look positively breathtaking if the sun shined. The buildings next to the palace also had marvelous architectue. Because of the imminent tourist crowd, we'd wanted to be the first ones in but already hordes of tourist buses arrived and when the palace doors opened, it was a mad dash to get in. Today was the cruise ship day. It was then a whirlwind getting through the rooms, always trying to get ahead of the chinese herd. I knew the palace was grand but the amount of gold and rich chandeliers were almost too much to take in. Room after room just made your mouth open in wonder and delight. The Jordan Staircase topped all other Grand Staircases I've seen. The 2 tons chandelier in the armory room, the gold and the chandeliers in the throne room made me speechless. The crystal room was a winter's heaven. And I even liked the mosaic room, moi who dont like mosaics that much. Enormous vases with malachite and lapis (my fav semi precious) inlaid leafs stole my heart. The amount of treasure in this palace surpassed any I've witnessed. Even the wooden floors had beautiful intricate designs. The Hermitage collections were beyond belief. I spotted my favorite Rembrandt 'abraham and Isaac'. in front of Goya's Antonia Zarate, I was literally picked up and deposited aside by a chinese tourist who couldnt wait for her turn to stand in front of this painting. I've been elbowed, knocked over, pushed aside before, but never physically picked up and put some place else. One needs at least 2 days to completely cover the NY Met and maybe the London Museum, 1 week to totally enjoy the Louvre. Possibly 2 weeks for the entire Hermitage. Others wowed to come back the next day but the Hippo has already had enough of museums for 1 trip.

We had lunch at a nearby subterranean small local restaurant. The pasta I had was delicious. Nice place decorated with russian mementos, and I spotted a very nice color drawing of Lenin in a winter field. Such treasures. We missed the hydrofoil so we drove to Peterhof instead. Another grand palace, filled with gold. no photos allowed inside. But the garden fountains were what made it famous. 7 beautiful fountains on 1 side, elaborate tiered ones ornate with statues at the back, the Grand Cascade and the Samson Fountain'. Barely enough time to snap a few photos, we had to run to the last hydrofoil. Short ride but you did get a perspective of the compact city from the river. Back at the hotel, just in time for one last afternoon tea. Glorious cakes and bakes again. yum yum.

For dinner we went to an authentic russian restaurant and had beef stroganoff. Not like the ones we had at home. This came with mashed potato. Very good though. Piles of georgian flat bread again. Yum to the max. Slept quite well this night.

See the Tsars' Treasures - The Winter Palace:

The Hermitage:




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