We've embraced the 'Slow' philosophy as a way of life - what's the hurry?. Taking time to smell the roses (usually on a glass of Viognier) is more our style. Having spent more then 3 years on the road, slow travel has become a way of life. We have revised our plans completely and now focus on quality, not quantity, slowly.
As promised we spent 5 days in St
Petersburg in order to validate our Russian visas. There was only a small
window of opportunity for us to do this, so we took the opportunity to see this
Our taxi driver from the airport was so
thrilled that we were from Australia – “My first Australian passengers!”
We did all the tourist essentials and only
got off the beaten track occasionally. We’d pre-booked our ‘Hermitage’ tickets
so day 2 was spent discovering this extraordinary museum. The extensive
collections are truly mind-blowing, but the building – The Winter Palace - itself
is worth seeing. The parquetry floors alone are worth visiting for.
Day 1 left us dazed and in need of wine and
food. Day 2 we were savvy and got there as the doors opened. We knew the drill
and headed straight to the Italian rooms so we could see them again without
anyone else around. There is a perfect copy of Raphael’s loggia at the Vatican.
So brilliant is the reproduction that it is used as a reference for restoration
of the original. Ruth - there are two entire rooms of Titian! Next stop was the French impressionists and Picasso. More than
I think I saw in Paris. Astounding. So great to see these without anyone else
in the way.
The Winter Palace
Tip! Don’t visit on a weekend. Don’t dilly
dally when you get inside – head straight to the Italians.
There was loads more and I won’t bore you
with the details. We both feel that we never need to go to another gallery or
museum – we have seen the best.
Of course we did loads of churches, the
fortress and the worlds first indoor shopping mall (1765). Considering the
weather, this is not a surprising development.
Pretty Church - St Nicholas
Outside the indoor shopping mall
Despite its gruesome name, the Church of
the Saviour on Spilled Blood looks like a 3yr old’s birthday cake. This is the
show-stopper church that you see on all the postcards and tourist brochures, but
it is wonderful to see. Inside is entirely decked out with stunning mosaics.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood by day
Eating and drinking was an adventure. There
are a lot of ‘modern Russian’ style restaurants and cafes, but hard to find
traditional food. Night 2 we ate in one of these modern places and ordered a
bottle of Nero D’Avola (Sicilian). “Oh sorry we don’t have that” OK, we’ll have
the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. “Oh yes we have that”. He then bought us a bottle
of Bardolino. 2 more different Italian wines I cannot imagine. Wine is not
understood in Russia and it is EXPENSIVE. We splurged one night in an upmarket
Russian restaurant and ate Koulibiaka, a Rabbit and Duck pie. Delicious with a
Spanish wine from an obscure wine region we had visited. Another night we ate
Georgian food with a Georgian wine. We are so looking forward to visiting
Georgia and exploring the wine – the origin of wine-making.
So as you can imagine we ate well, and
That was our first taste of Russia. Our
next foray will be through the Caucuses from Georgia around May next year. I’m
sure it will feel completely different from this little trip. Watch this space.