Today was our ‘free-time’ day and we really weren’t sure what the weather was going to do. Lisa wasn’t feeling the best so she and Chris were going to have a quiet day. Hamish, Kath, Tash and I decided to head to Peterhof – Russia’s answer to Versailles or Peter’s Palace with hundreds of fountains and golden statues, about an hour or so away on the train or about half-hour by fast boat. We went down to the water behind the Hermitage to get the fast boat, but in anyone’s money it was expensive and didn’t leave for nearly an hour later, so we decided we would go by train instead.
Seeing how we were reasonably close by and the weather was okay we headed to St. Isaac’s to climb the colonnade for a view of St. Petersburg. It is one of the world’s largest and most ornate cathedrals. It was somewhat of a hefty and winding climb but the view was definitely cool.
After our giddy descent we headed for the train, purchased our tickets and climbed aboard a real local Russian train. The seats were like bleachers and every few minutes a new marketer/hawker would come through selling their wares and it was a pretty good selection we could have got dvd’s, umbrellas, magazines (cartoons to porn), chocolate, coke, chips you name it and I reckon we could have got it, it was quite intriguing.
We arrived at our destination without map or directions other than bus route numbers. We followed the flow of people (which wasn’t that great) and then the bus routes and found our way to the very spectacular entry to Peterhof. The palace was built between 1709 and 1724 by some 5000 soldiers and slaves, was completely destroyed during W.W.II, and, in the 1950’s was reconstructed from photographs and maps. The place is huge and so so pretty the colours were like a fall jigsaw puzzle – yellows, reds, light greens – just awesome. We spent a bit time (and countless photo’s) before heading back to the city and our farewell dinner organised for us by our tour host.
We ate at a Russian restaurant that translated is something about goldilocks and the bears and whilst the food was great, the interior very quirky it turned out to be our most expensive restaurant for the trip. We headed to a local pub for a few more beers and a late night.