Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 3: Palaces and Saints

After getting home from the Hermitage museum yesterday, I decided not to try the theatre with no lifts so Syl went to the ballet and I was happy to stay in. It was a good idea because my oxygen machine played up during the night – I couldn’t get the belt battery to work - and the machine kept bleeping. At around 2am I noticed that the tube was bent and thought that the oxygen not getting through was causing the alarm. Syl had a brainwave and splinted the bend in the tube with an ear bud and elastoplaster (it looked very strange!) but the thing still kept bleeping so I had to go without it.
This morning we had a 6h15 wake up call, had to be at breakfast by 7am and on the bus by 7h45. Phsew – that’s a challenge for me! We went to Catherine’s summer palace in Pushkin (named after the poet). Pushkin is part of the metropolitan area of St Petersburg and is beautifully green with parks and gardens, lots of flowers.
Catherine’s summer palace – a huge blue and white complex of palace and buildings for servants and animals - does not have lifts so I had to slowly climb two steep flights of stairs to get to the reception rooms. I gave up after counting 30 steps! But, it was worth it. I have been looking at pictures of the palace for nearly 10 years and was determined to visit the rooms.
We then came back to the boat at 12pm for lunch and had to be back on the bus at 1h30 for a 5.5 hour tour of St Petersburg. We had a number of photo stops, a stop at a gallery with a souvenir shop and a 45 minutes stop where we could change money at the bank and visit the Church of the Saviour of the Blood.
Tonight there is an optional visit to a Cossack music and dance show but Syl and I both decided to forgo the ‘hop, skip and jump’ and have an early night. Not that early – dinner lasted until almost 9pm!
Now we are looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning, having a quiet day on board before getting the shuttle into town where we will do a bit of shopping and watch the St Petersburg world go by!


The WIFI connection on the boat is irratic and  temperamental and we’ve had problems getting onto Gmail, let alone the blog or Facebook.
Dinner last night was a bit rushed because we had to shower, change, eat and be at the buses by 7pm. We were taken to the Alexandrinsky Theatre where we watched Swan Lake. The music was stunning, the story charmingly familiar, the sets excellent and the dancing superb but there were times when I felt myself nodding off. One of the passengers said that it was the best production he had ever seen - sets, dancers, music etc. 
It was after 11pm when we came out of the theatre but the sun was still shining! St Petersburg looks beautiful in the late evening –much softer 
than it does in the morning sunlight. We got back to the boat just as the sun was setting at 11:25pm.  I crept into the cabin, trying not to wake Patty.  My head was still full of swans, dancing and music and when I heard a bleeping sound, it was part of my dream and swans were hooting.  But it was Patty's POC! She has told you about the problems with her machine and we had a fairly disrupted sleep until around 2:30am. We had to be up early and both of us were a bit moggy!

The weather forecast today was 19 – 22oC and 50% rain. As we arrived at Catherine’s Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) it started to rain. It took us an hour and a half to walk through the many reception rooms, one more heavily gilded than the next, and as we left, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Patty did very well, climbing up one staircase and then the next. In between, I pushed her in the wheelchair and she saw everything that we did. Mikhail told us that we wouldn't be able to walk around the gardens so he went off with the group and we found a way down into the gardens, walking with Greg and Kathy (who we first met on the bus in from the airport) and, hey presto! who do we run into but Mikhail and his group.  I think he just can't be bothered to find a way to accommodate anyone who needs a bit of help.
We got back to the boat just in time for lunch (more about the food in another post) and it was back to the buses for a tour of St Petersburg.
Today has been go, go, go and I don't think we are going to make the optional Cossack Folk Dancing that is being offered for tonight

The Hermitage can be seen across the river.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for adding the photos. It makes you both so much nearer.Hope you're enjoying the White Nights of the northern hemisphere and not missing the buzz of the vuvuzuelas too much! Christine