Saint Petersburg
August 2009 saw us undertake a city trip to Sankt Peterburg. Our stay lasted from 16 - 21. The arrangement of visas previous to our departure was a tedious affair and lessens the enthusiasm to visit Russia. For the visa application one has to have an invitation from a party in Russia (e.g. a hotel), but we also had to provide a statement from our health insurance confirming we were covered for health care abroad. Tedious. Costly too.

 

We had arranged a car to meet us at the airport and bring us to our hotel.
The Hotel Vera is deserving a word of gratitude here, their service was excellent, both prior to our departure as well as during our visit in arranging excursions and answering our questions. The young ladies at the frontdesk were all smiles and spoke excellent English. The accommodation was clean and adequate, the breakfast buffet an excellent start for the day.

Our arrival at Pulkovo Airport saw a wet welcome, it rained heavily. But after we had checked in at the hotel, and went out into the streets, we only felt a spat of rain. The photos above were taken at the Ploshchad Vosstanika. There is a subway station here too.
Left: people in the streets, talking through loudspeakers, is a form of advertisement here. The message was lost to us of course.

 

Left: On one of St. Petersburg's most picturesque corners, where Ulitsa Belinskogo crosses the Fontanka River, the Church of Ss. Simeon and Anna is one of St. Petersburg's oldest churches, and one of the finest examples of early baroque architecture in the city.
The first wooden church was built on this site on the orders of Peter the Great in 1714, to celebrate the birth of his daughter Anna. Empress Anna Ionnovna, who came to the throne in 1730, also considered St. Anna to be her patron, and instructed architect Mikhail Zemtsov to design a stone replacement for the wooden church.
The church was originally reserved for members of the court, but later became a popular public church for the aristocratic residents of this area of St. Petersburg. Closed by the Bolsheviks in the 1930s, the church was initially turned into a warehouse, and then handed over to the Meteorological Museum. Returned to the Orthodox Church in the 1990s, the church has still not recovered its main relics, including the Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God, which is still housed in the St. Nicholas Maritime Cathedral. The interior has been restored in a plain, attractive style, and is now a fully functioning church. [Churches of St. Petersburg]

Center & Right: a remarkable façade across the street, from the church.

 

Dressed in periodic clothwear At tourist 'hot spots' one sees these people in periodic costumes.
For a fee, a photo can be made with them.

 

 

Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, also known to Petersburgers as the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood - or even just the Church on the Blood - as it marks the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt on March 1, 1881.
Designed by Alfred Parland in the style of 16th and 17th-century Russian churches, the Church of the Resurrection provides a stark (some would say jarring) contrast to its surroundings of Baroque, Classical and Modernist architecture.
Alexander II died of wounds inflicted in an attack by the terrorist group People's Will. Immediately, his heir, Alexander III, declared his intention to erect a church on the site in his father's memory, and moreover to have this church built in 'traditional Russian'-style, in distinction to what he saw as the contaminating Western influence of Petersburg.
Eventually, after Alexander had rejected several architects' designs, Archimandrite Ignaty gave the job to Parland, but made the design himself. The church's final composition drew heavily from St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow and the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. Construction began in 1883, and Ignaty died shortly afterward, leaving Parland to complete the job.
No baptisms, funeral services, weddings, or other traditional church services were held in the Church on the Blood, as this was not in Alexander III's plans. However, weekly requiems (for Alexander II) and sermon readings attracted large numbers of worshippers.
After the Revolution, the church - despite becoming an official cathedral in 1923 - was looted. It was closed in 1932, and essentially turned into a garbage dump.
After World War II, the church was used as a warehouse for the Small Opera Theatre.
On July 20, 1970 the church was made a branch of the St. Isaac's Cathedral museum, and 80 percent of the church's extraordinary restoration was funded by profits from St. Isaac's. The decades of deterioration and then restoration culminated in the dramatic re-opening of the church in August 1997, when thousands of eager visitors swamped the church. [Churches of St. Petersburg]

 

Souvenirs in St Petersburg
World Leaders..
Vintage car done up
Souvenirs, souvenirs... A Matryoshka doll or a Russian nested doll (often incorrectly referred to as a Babushka doll - babushka means "grandmother" in Russian), is a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other. Depicting world leaders, they are also popular.

I rather liked the decorated car.

 

Weddings in St Petersburg
To get wed seems to be a popular activity here in Sankt Peterburg. We saw several, sometimes more than one couple at the same location, to have their pictures taken. I just joined in, taking pictures. One gets tired of shooting buildings and items of extreme wealth and luxury.

 

Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Palace Square), with the Alexander Column. Curving an incredible 580m around the south side of the square is the Carlo Rossi-designed General Staff Building of the Russian Army (1819-29). The two great blocks are joined by a triumphal arch over Bolshaya Morskaya ul. The arch is topped by the 'Chariot of Glory', another monument to the Napoleonic Wars.
On Bloody Sunday (9 January 1905), tsarist troops fired on workers who were peaceably gathered in the square, sparking the 1905 revolution. And it was across Dvortsovaya Ploshchad that the much-exaggerated storming of the Winter Palace took place during the 1917 October Revolution.
[Lonely Planet Review]

 

Scene of the crime (Nevski Prospekt)

The scene of the crime..! At this corner Ada got involved in a tousle between two or three young men. When she was clear of them, she called me as while I was only two steps ahead, I had noticed nothing. Another young man in a bright blue t-shirt stepped in and warned us about (he points) 'these two dark people in black shirts' walking away, being pickpockets.
We looked towards the direction indicated, but saw nothing, upon which an American couple warned us that this young man tried to pickpocket them!
Then we saw Ada's bag partly open.. Her wallet was gone, we noticed with a sinking feeling.
Time between the tousle and this discovery was less than a minute!
We followed the guy in the blue t-shirt, on an impulse, into a nearby shop. But the shopkeeper and assistent denied seeing a customer in a blue t-shirt, which was confusing. Were they into it too, providing an escape route?
While we explained that we had been robbed, another young man entered the shop and handed over the wallet! He told us it was thrown aside. A small amount of cash had been taken and when we sat down at a Subway restaurant to settle the nerves, and inspected the wallet more closely, we saw the Mastercard had been taken too.
Frustratingly enough I was not successful in dialling internationally at first, but we managed to block the credit card within 45 minutes after the theft, with the help of our son at home.
That is one reputation Russia has managed to confirm for us!

But it was not a nice way to start this trip and it had an effect on every day of our stay and how we behaved, clinging to our belongings and closely watching each other while walking.

 

 

On the Nevskiy Prospekt
On the Nevskiy Prospekt

 

People in the park
People in the park.
Russia's beautiful women
One sees the most beautiful women here in St.petersburg, dressed to kill and seemingly no expense spared for shoes and clothing. The Nevskiy Prospekt has all the stores one finds in London and Paris.

 

 

 

Tsarskoye Selo, 26 kilometres (16 mi) south from the center of St. Petersburg.
This entire trip to Saint Petersburg was meant to be 'in the footsteps of the Romanovs', and this town and palace (renamed to Pushkin town / palace, in 1937, renamed to commemorate the centenary of the poet's death) was an important step.
Pity only the Catherine Palace could be visited as the Alexander Palace was out of bounds. Reason for this was that restoration was in progress. If you see the photos taken at the end of WW2 here, see the derelict state it was in at that time, you'll understand what a huge enterprise restoring this palace, to its former Royal glory, really is.
Detail of the outside façade, it is magnificent but I wouldn't have mind a little less of the obvious colour gold.
In the 17th century, the estate belonged to a Swedish noble. Its original Finnish name is usually translated as 'a higher ground'. Max Vasmer, on the other hand, derives this toponym from the Finnish word for island, 'saari'. In any case, the Finnish name came to be pronounced by the 18th-century Russians as "Sarskoye Selo", later changed to 'Tsarskoye Selo' (the royal village).
In 1708, Peter the Great gave the estate to his wife, future Empress Catherine I, as a present.
It was Catherine who started to develop the place as a royal country residence. Her daughter, Empress Elizabeth and her architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli were largely responsible for the building of the Catherine Palace.
Later Empress Catherine II of Russia and her architect Charles Cameron extended the Palace building what is now known as the famous Cameron Gallery. Currently, there are two imperial palaces: the baroque Catherine Palace with the adjacent Catherine Park and the neoclassical Alexander Palace with the adjacent Alexander Park. The Catherine Palace is surrounded by a Garden à la française and an English landscape garden, with such 18th-century structures as Dutch Admiralty, Creaking Pagoda, Chesme Column, Rumyantsev Obelisk, and Marble Bridge. [Wikipedia, more..]

You can see that from many words, written in Cyrillic, nothing can be derived.
Tzar Peter
The crowds are a bummer. Thousands a day shuffle their way through this palace. I cannot stand crowds. I hate to be in tourgroups. I hate to be restricted, not to wander around freely. I hate to relinquish my camera backpack. But it was the way to get in and see things.


Besides handing in our backpacks, we also had to don these thingies around our shoes, to protect the floor. This is not unlogical, but the young women of Russia wear the highest spiked heels and I cannot see how these thingies could protect damage from high heeled shoes.

A lot, really a lot, of gold.
As it should look
Table has been set
The table has been set, royal guests could walk in any minute... The structure in the corner of the room is a heating stove. It has been decorated by Delft tiles, from the Netherlands. These tiles were locally made, under supervision of Dutch craftsmen.
The Nazi's plundered this palace during WW2 and some of the collections were never traced. The damage was extensive and if one compares both images one can see enormous progress has been made in restoration.
How it once was

Delft tiles

Elizabeth, the second-oldest surviving daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I of Russia, was born at Kolomenskoye, near Moscow, on December 18, 1709 (O.S.).
Her parents were secretly married in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in St.Petersburg in November 1707. The marriage was made public in February 1712. As her parents were not publicly acknowledged as being married at the time of her birth, Elizabeth's 'illegitimacy' would be used by political opponents to challenge her right to the throne. On March 6, 1711, she was proclaimed a Tsarevna and on December 23, 1721 a Tsesarevna. [Wikipedia, more..]
She has a reputation as being religious, retiring to a convent for a month, each year. And she walked to the convent! But she walked a mile or less each day and was brought by carriage to her palace again for the night. She wore a new and different dress each day, such as the one above, and by the end her wardrobe numbered some 10.000 dresses. I gathered this from what our guide Olga told us.

Peter (right) followed his mother’s wishes and married a girl she had selected for him. Eudokia Lopukhin (above left, I think that is her) was a girl of the nobility, young, reasonable pretty, and although she meant well, she lacked spirit and imagination.
She didn’t understand Peter’s ideas and they had little in common. After she produced two children, the ill-fated Alexis and another boy Alexander, who died in childhood, Peter had little to do with her. She too went into a convent and Peter eventually divorced her. [Source]

An artist impression of the deplorable state this palace once was in...
Crowds!!!
A rather decorative 'beachhouse' at the lake!
 

 


Heading back into town

 

DJ Tiesto
DJ Tiesto was here..
And so was Candy Dulver; nice to see Dutch musicians being able to share their music far and wide.

 

Traffic lights
Traffic lights have a countdown system, which is very useful.

 

Splendid light The beautiful light struck me and the high vantage point from the bus allowed me to take this photo

 

Inside the restaurant


We found it hard, at first, to recognize restaurants... Many of these establishments have only 'Pectopah' or 'Pecmopah' displayed outside, not 'restaurant'. And windows have curtains or artful displays that make it impossible to look inside. But this restaurant (I cannot reproduce the name) was right across our hotel and we dined here most nights: good food for a reasonable price and also a 10% discount for the guests of Hotel Vera.
Alcoholic beverages can be found in supermarkets in an astounding supply and the 24-hour cornerstore nearby even sold Guinness, my favourite booze!
The Nevskiy Prospekt also featured western restaurants such as MacDonalds, Subway and PizzaHut.

Pectopah

 

 

Kazansky Cathedral
On the Nevskiy Prospekt one finds the impressive Kazansky Cathedral, a stone structure of 40-foot-high columns and intricate carved doors. At either end of the cathedral are statues commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Russian victory over Napoleon.There is also the statue of Field Marshal Kutuzov, who is buried in a vault in the cathedral.

Kazansky Cathedral

This is a very special cathedral for the residents of St Petersburg. It was built between 1801 and 1811 to a design drawn by Voronikhin. The cathedral was built to house the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan (the icon is now kept in the Prince Vladimir Cathedral). Kazansky Cathedral was constructed in the shape of a Latin cross. The side facing Nevskiy Prospect boasts a colonnade of 96 columns.
[Wikipedia]

 

Old woman and pigeons

 

Old truck on Nevski Prospekt
You see so many expensive cars, a truck of this vintage sticks out

 

Two images, I thought, which could remind of 'Old Russia'... The statue in front of that austere building and what to think of that housing block with a loudspeaker outside... what is that for?

Alexander Solovyov, who lives in St.Petersburg, wrote me: "Austere buildings you've seen is a part of Stalinist architecture. There are a lot of them in Moskovsky district, but not as much as in Moscow!"
"Loudspeakers you noticed are part of an old global alert system, used to warn people about air attacks during WW2. Later it was kept in case of some kind of disaster to announce evacuation or something, and now used mostly during holidays for announcements and music."

Like the old days
Old building blocks

 

Wooden houses of St. Petersburg
Outside St.Petersburg there are still houses made of wood. Their numbers decline rapidly in this area however, as they are bought and demolished, to make way for modern housing. We saw huge flats outside the city center, but also nice villas. Our guide told us St.Petersburg now numbers 5 million people but can accommodate only 4 million, so building continues at a feverish rate.

 

Orthodox Church
Just an orthodox church I noticed beside the road, while being driven to Peterhof

 

Peterhof
Peterhof (Russian: Petergof, originally named Peterhof, Dutch/German for 'Peter's Court') is a municipal town within Petrodvortsovy District of the federal city of Saint Petersburg on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.
Peterhof
Fountains of Peterhof
The expanse of the Lower Gardens is designed in the formal style of a garden à la française of the 17th century. Although many trees are overgrown, in the recent years the formal clipping along the many allees has resumed in order to restore the original appearance of the garden.
Peterhof
Fountains at Peterhof
Fountans in Lower Garden
The Grand Cascade is modeled on one constructed for Louis XIV at his Château de Marly, which is likewise memorialized in one of the park's outbuildings.
The fountains of the Grand Cascade are located below the grotto and on either side of it. Their waters flow into a semicircular pool, the terminus of the fountain-lined Sea Channel.
In the 1730s, the large Samson Fountain was placed in this pool. It depicts the moment when Samson tears open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War, and is doubly symbolic. The lion is an element of the Swedish coat of arms, and one of the great victories of the war was won on St Samson's Day.
From the lion's mouth shoots a 20-metre-high vertical jet of water, the highest in all of Peterhof.
This masterpiece by Mikhail Kozlovsky was looted by the invading Germans during the Second World War, a replica was installed in 1947.
Married couple at Peterhof
Dressed up in periodic costume at Peterhof
And again a nice location for wedded couples to have their pictures taken, on 'the day of their life'.
For the tourists there is the opportunity to be photographed with people wearing periodic costumes.
Veiled but why?
A veiled statue, mysterious..?
Peter the Great first mentions the Peterhof site in his journal in 1705, during the Great Northern War, as a good place to construct a landing for use in traveling to and from the island fortress of Kronstadt. And in 1714, Peter began construction of the Monplaisir ('my pleasure') Palace based on his own sketches of the palace that he wanted close to the shoreline. This was Peter's Summer Palace that he would use on his way coming and going from Europe through the harbor at Kronstadt.
On the walls of this seacoast palace hung hundreds of paintings that Peter brought from Europe and allowed to weather Russian winters without heat together with the dampness of being so close to the sea. And in the seaward corner of his Monplaisir Palace, Peter made his Maritime Study from which he could see Kronstadt Island to the left and St. Petersburg to the right.
Later, he expanded his plans to include a vaster royal château of palaces and gardens further inland, on the model of Versailles.
Each of the tsars after Peter expanded on the inland palaces and gardens of Peterhof, but the major contributions by Peter the Great were completed by 1725.
Table has been set at Peterhof
 
 
Peterhof originally appeared quite differently than it does today. Many of the fountains had not yet been installed. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist: the latter was used to grow vegetables, and its ponds, then numbering only three, for fish...
The Samson Fountain and its massive pedestal had not yet been installed in the Sea Channel, and the channel itself was used as a grand marine entrance into the complex.
Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps.
Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade.
The Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain.
The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source.
The augmentation of Peterhof's original fountains and the addition of new ones continued well into the 19th century.
[Wikipedia]

 

Breaking the spell

 

Subway of St.Petersburg
We only used the subway once. Buslines 5,7 and 11 passed our hotel and travelled the length of the Nevskiy Prospekt, which suited us fine. Bustickets cost 18 rubles for each boarding and the subway 20 rubles to pass the turnstiles (at this time equivalent to 45 eurocents).

 

At Mac Kafe
At MacDonalds
Staff at Mac Kafe (McDonalds) was all smiles and very friendly (speaking English fluently), not the usual Russian grumpiness and sour looks. Youngsters flood these restaurants in some places, but we had a quiet cappuccino here.

 

Signs ar ehard to read at times
Without translation these signs are completely unreadable and useless.

 

Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The fortress, originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini, is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Peter's main reason for building the fort was for protection against a potential attack by the Swedish navy during the Great Northern War.

The cathedral is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the fortress (Saint Peter being the patron saint of the city). The current cathedral is the second one on the site. The first, built soon after Peter's founding of the city, was consecrated by Archbishop Iov of Novgorod the Great in April 1704.

[Wikipedia]
In periodic costume
People in periodic costumes take their positions for another day at work.

With wigs becoming virtually obligatory garb for men of virtually any significant social rank during the 17th century, wigmakers gained considerable prestige.
A wigmakers' guild was established in France in 1665, a development soon copied elsewhere in Europe. Their job was a skilled one as 17th century wigs were extraordinarily elaborate, covering the back and shoulders and flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy and often uncomfortable to wear. Such wigs were expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses and goats was often used as a cheaper alternative.
In the 18th century, men's wigs were powdered in order to give them their distinctive white or off-white color. Contrary to popular belief, women in the 18th century did not wear wigs, but wore a coiffure that we nowadays would call hair extensions. The top of their natural hair was being enriched by fake hair, or hair not of their own. Women mainly powdered their hair grey, or blue-ish grey, and from the 1770s onwards never bright white like men.
[Wigs on Wikipedia]
Tickethouse
The little house where we bought our tickets.

Right: pickpockets, we'd had our share!
Since that 'event' we felt quite uneasy walking the streets and visiting the sights. I cannot but feel the Russian police can do more to prevent this, but they feel they do enough by publishing notices (probably a tourist problem anyway).
Pickpockets!
The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Also was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years. (Of the post-Petrine rulers, only Peter II and Ivan VI are not buried here. Peter II is in the Cathedral of Michael the Archangel in the Moscow Kremlin. Ivan VI was executed and buried in the fortress of Shlisselburg.) The cathedral has a typical Flemish carillon, a gift of the Flemish city of Mechelen, Flanders.
On September 28, 2006, 78 years after her death, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, was reinterred in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Wife of Tsar Alexander III, and mother of Nicholas II, (the last Russian Tsar), Maria Feodorovna died on 13 October 1928 in exile in her native Denmark and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark.

The current building, the first stone church in St. Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its golden spire reaches a height of 404 feet and features at its top an angel holding a cross. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg. When renovators were working to clean the angel in 1997, they found a note bottle left in one of the folds of the angel's gown. In the note, renovators from 1953 apologized for what they felt was rushed and shoddy work (Khrushchev wanted the angel refurbished for the 250th anniversary of the city that year). It is said that the renovators in 1997 left another message for future generations, but the contents of that message have not been revealed.
The Fortress lay out

 


The Peter & Paul Cathedral is another obvious location for wedding couples to have their photos taken.

While one couple is being told how to pose by the photographer for the next photo (the Trotsky Most -bridge- in the background), guests from another wedding take a stroll away from the hustle and bustle.

 

Another wedding at Sankt Peterburg

We walked across the Trotsky Bridge, which has the reputation of being one of Saint Petersburg’s most beautiful bridges.
It has five structures creating an arch, granite obelisks and modern-styled street lamps representing the city’s emblem: a sceptre and two crossed anchors.
The brigde connects the Field of Mars with the Petrogradski district.
It was constructed by the French company Batignolles and the inauguration ceremony was marked by the French president Félix Faure in 1903 for the city’s Bicentennial. The bridge received the name Trotsky which translates to "of the Trinity", relating to the Cathedral of the Trinity, which, before its destruction in 1932, had been situated near the bridge. It is 582 metres long and the support beam on the left bank is mobile. [Source]
On the other side of the Neva we found another wedding couple, their transport a rather nice limo (most seem to be driven around by a cavalcade of extended Hummers).

 

 

Mikhaylovskiy Gardens

 


The Russian Museum, alas we did not have the time for a visit. Another day.

The Russian Museum is the first state museum of the Russian fine art in the country. It was established in 1895 in St Petersburg under the decree of the Emperor Nicholas II.
The Russian Museum today is a unique depository of artistic treasures, a famous restoration centre, an authoritative institute of academic research, one of the major cultural and educational centres, research and methodological centre of art museums of the Russian Federation, overseeing activities of 260 art museums of Russia. [Website]

 

 

Sandwichman
Rather an old fashioned way to advertise but we saw it quite a lot here, in the streets of St.Petersburg.

 

Russian money, Rubles
The ruble or rouble is currently the currency unit of Belarus, Russia, and Transnistria. It used to be the currency unit of several other countries, notably countries influenced by Russia and the Soviet Union.
One ruble is divided into 100 kopecks, a name also used for the one-hundredth part of a Ukrainian hryvnia.
Both the spellings "ruble" and "rouble" are used in English. The form "rouble" is preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary, but the earliest use recorded in English is the now completely obsolete "robble". The form "rouble" probably derives from the transliteration into French used among the Tsarist aristocracy. [Wikipedia]

At home we could not change euros to roubles, we got our cash from cash machines at St.Petersburg. These cash machines offer a menu in English and the most I could withdraw at one time was 3.000 Rubles (aprox. 67 euro). Some cashmachines also offered US Dollars as a currency, but I did not try that. Souvenir shops sometimes have their prices in euro. Restaurants we dined in accepted credit cards.

 

 

Boattour
Another look, across the Neva, at Peter & Paul Cathedral.

 

Helicopter rides at St Petersburg
These helicopters do scenic flights over the city, but I don't know from where or the costs involved. Another thing, maybe, for another day.
 

 

Peter the Great was interested in shipbuilding and aquatic vessels from the time he was an adolescent. At the age of 17 Peter oversaw the building of a small flotilla at Perejaslavskom Lake near Moscow. The Grandfather of the Russian Fleet was the name given to Peter the Great’s first ship, in which he learned to navigate.
Tsar Peter

In 1692, Peter had a small shipyard constructed where two small frigates and three small yachts were built. The next year he ordered the building of two more ships and placed an order for a ship to be made in Holland. After the two ships had been completed they were then armed for battle.
The ship from Holland was a 44 gun frigate named Over the Prophecy.
In 1695 Russia entered the first Azov campaign. The main objective given to the navy in this first campaign was to deliver provisions and supplies to the fighting ground troops. The first campaign was not successful, but Russia was not finished in Azov. In the summer of 1696 more ships were brought in to fight, and Azov was taken.
Just before the turn of the century Peter went to Holland to study the most advanced nautical sciences of the day, worked in ship construction as a ship's carpenter and earned the title of shipwright.
By the turn of the century Peter had moved on to creating larger warships. In the spring of 1700 a 58-gun ship was completed and the construction of a 56-gun ship began. Shortly after this, Russia would become involved in a war with the Swedes.
At the conclusion of the war with the Swedes a plot of land at the mouth of the Neva River was opened. This site would become the new Russian city, St. Petersburg, and later the country’s capital. [Source]
 

 

Police on the streets

 

And another wedding

 

WC Lady
This woman kept a very tidy and clean public toilet.
 

 


A visit to Saint Isaac's Cathedral.
St Isaac Cathedral

The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858. Under the Soviet government, the building was abandoned, then turned into a museum of atheism. The dove sculpture was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum. During World War II, the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. [Wikipedia]
Saint Isaac's Cathedral, or Isaakievskiy Sobor, is the largest cathedral (sobor) in the city and was the largest church in Russia when it was built (101.5 meters high).
It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great who had been born on the feast day of that saint.
The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786–1858), who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon's designer, Charles Percier.
Monferrand's design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical pedimented octastyle porticos. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Monferrand's favour.

I am not a religious person, but I found it strange to see souvenir stands inside the cathedral (photo below, center).

St.Isaac Cathedral ticket

 


A car has been stopped. In the background a statue is being cleaned. Busses await return of tourgroups.
Restaurant 1913
We had a nice lunch at the restaurant '1913'. Restaurants are sometimes hard to recognise.

 

Hermitage

The Dvortsovaya Ploshchad's (=Palace Square) most impressive building is the incredible green, white and gold Winter Palace (Zimny Dvorets), with its rococo profusion of columns, windows and recesses, topped by rows of larger-than-life statues. A residence of tsars from 1762 to 1917, it is now the largest part of the State Hermitage Museum.

Severe, rain threatening clouds and bright sunshine took turns, making us shiver or sweat in our jackets. The lines at the Hermitage made us shiver and sweat too! Twice we stood in line, but with waiting times between 1-2 hours we were quickly discouraged. The Hermitage opening times were from 10:30 - 18:00 (last visitors admitted 17:00). One would doesn't need to be a rocket scientest to conclude that waiting times probably would be less if you open the museum from 08:30 - 18:00 during the summer.. Morons!!

These incredible lines probably stem from old Russian times (standing in line for hours for a loaf of bread) and catering to consumer interest and service is still much to be desired here.
Impractical shoes but..
These young women had a tad difficulty in negotiating the cobblestones here.. My photographic interest in young Russian women is of course merely another expression of 'architecture'

 

Nevsky Prospekt
Nevskiy Prospekt.

Nevsky Prospect is St. Petersburg’s main avenue and one of the best-known streets in Russia. Cutting through the historical center of the city, it runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station and then, after a slight kink, to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
In the very first days of St. Petersburg it was simply the beginning of the road to the ancient city of Novgorod, but it quickly became adorned with beautiful buildings, squares and bridges and became the very center of the bustling, rapidly growing city. www.saint-petersburg.com
Until the 1970s this town saw regularly flooding and the Nevskiy Prospekt, at one time, saw the flooding so severe that boats could navigate it!

 

Boattour From the Anichkov Most (=bridge) we took a boattrip on which a guide would do the narrative in English. We were the only guests on board, another indication this town is more tuned to tourgroups than individual (western) tourists and travellers. We thank Olga for doing the commentary with equal enthusiasm.

Boattrip ticket

More weddings
Another bride on camera
And more weddings in progress, or photoshoots to be more precise. It wasn't sunny all the time and the temperature was a mere 15 C (you wouldn't think that if you saw some of the creations the women wore)
On boattour, heading for the Neva
From the canals to the River Neva

The Neva is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast (historical region of Ingria) and the city of Saint Petersburg, to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland.
Despite its modest length, it is the third largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge (after the Volga and the Danube). [Wikipedia]

 

Peter and Paul Cathedral
Another look, this time from the water, at the Peter & Paul Cathedral. The harsh sunlight and threatening stormclouds provided for some nice light and photos. A few minutes later we had to seek shelter in the boat, as the threatening rainclouds proofed true to their threat..
Hermitage, seen from the Neva
Another look at the Hermitage, from the water.

 

Police, car breakdown
To get the police on the pavement, out of their cars, it seems the car has to break down.

 

Underground cafe
A very nice cafe, near the Anichkov bridge, on the Nab. Reki Fontanki. We had some coffee sitting in the basement, the groundwork excavated to accommodate this cafe. The bricks could be centuries old.

 

Bus Lady

Every bus has a buslady (or sometime a man) who sells tickets or use a scanner to deduct a fare from a sort of debit card.
As with many Russians, a smile will rarely show on their faces.
This buslady told everybody out at some point, but could not explain to us why, except raise her voice. Yeah, yeah, we got the message: out.
bus tickets, each boarding costs 18 rubles
Suvorovsky Prospekt ('Prospekt' meaning 'Avenue' or broad street).
Diagonally across the restaurant we dined most nights.
On the right, that tower, the hotel we stayed in: Hotel Vera.

Under the reign of President Vladimir Putin the country saw economic growth, unemployment and inflation have fallen and the government has paid off most of its foreign debt. The gap between the poor and the rich has widened too. Over half of the adult male population in Russia has an alcohol problem, a soluton is nowhere is sight; each supermarket stocks a large selection of beer, wine and strong liquor.
But a scene like this, someone down and out sleeping on the pavement, can also be seen in the USA.

 

Flying home on Rossiya
Rossiya State Transport Kompany flew us home from Pulkovo 2 Airport (Int'l), on time and with a full lunchservice! No complaints or it should be for the many security checks we had to undergo. The security paranoia reigns here too, and it did not prevent us from being pickpocketed in broad daylight.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg
www.saint-petersburg.com/history