WordPress is not cooperating today, real problems loading pictures, so as with yesterday, apologies for the blanks!
The bus efficiently collected us at 9.30 am and in no time we were queueing to get into the Hermitage Museum. Even with overcast weather and light rain, this is a stunning building, or actually a series of buildings, which were added to as the Romanov’s huge art collection grew. The first was the Winter Palace, then the Little Hermitage Museum, then the large Hermitage Museum, all finished in aqua walls with white/cream embellishments.
We were glad of the radio contact with Maria again, we had been warned how easy it was to get lost in the 1000 rooms. Even arriving half an hour before public opening time there was a long queue to get through security and hand in coats. Then we were off on something of a whistle stop tour, to try and get to see at least some of the famous exhibits.
First off after the main hall was a painting of poor Nicholas II, who was murdered with all his family and two servants in 1917. Note how similar he looks to King George Vth, they were after all cousins.
George V refused them sanctuary when they realised the danger they were in, he was frightened that it might encourage revolution in the UK too. The Hermitage collection was entirely private to the Royal Family until after the revolution, when it, and many other buildings and gardens were opened up to the public.
We were rushed through halls of famous paintings, the most well known had huge queues in front of them, and we were jostled out of the way by the Japanese tourist groups, it got quite frustrating. I did get a glimpse of two of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonnas.
Apologies for the terrible reproduction, but you get the picture (sorry, awful pun, must be the daily shot of vodka they are pouring down us!)
Each room was amazingly beautiful, just look as at a couple of the ceilings.
We found a beautiful huge gold clock, made in England by James Cox and purchased by Catherine the Great. It was in the shape of three birds one a huge peacock, and the clock face was on an owl in a cage. when wound up the birds moved and the peacock stretched its wings.
There were so many works of art to make you gasp, including one version of the Three Graces
There were exquisite flowers made out of porcelain, rooms full of Roman copies of Greek sculpture, Egyptian items, including the actual preserved body inside an Egyptian Mummy, and the cases containing it, fitting together like Matrioshky dolls (is that where they got the idea, I wonder?)
They say it would take a year to see every exhibit in the museum, and we only have three hours, including time in the shop. The museum has perfected a way of reproducing paintings with a laser printer on canvas, and we fell for a portrait of a small girl reading, reminding us of our granddaughters, a young couple posing together, and a Spanish village scene. Whilst these were not expensive, we will probably only be able to afford to frame them one at a time!
The coach returned to take us to lunch, a four course meal in a very atmospheric restaurant. After fresh salad starters, Rog was brave enough to try the borscht soup, I opted for vegetable, then a traditional chicken Kiev and a lemon cake. Now very full, we were taken to the side of the Neva river that runs through St Petersburg for a river cruise. The boat company thoughtfully provided blankets, and our own Maria did the commentary on all the buildings that we passed. We picked out the places we had already been to, some of them so much clearer to see from the river.
Then it was back to the hotel, but as a reward for not keeping her waiting during the day,
Maria arranged another vodka stop at another shop. I assume the shop provides the vodka for her customers in the hope they will buy something, the merchandise was much the same, but there was a separate room selling good quality Russian chocolate, and we did succumb to that!
I doubt we would get these ones in our luggage!
During the gap between arriving back at the hotel, and going out to the Cossack singing and dancing show, we decided to grab a snack in the rooftop restaurant once more. Yet again the service was extremely slow, but the celery soup with scallop and lemon oil, when it arrived, looked too pretty to eat! It was very good though.
The show itself was exceptional, I hadn’t expected an operatic standard to singing, it was beautiful, and the energy of the young dancers left us exhausted just watching them. There were so many colourful changes of costume, and although the whole show was sung in Russian, the humour came though well.