Week of 3 July

We’ve been to Russia visiting Moscow and St Petersburg this week!  We had a great trip organised by the Russian Tourist Board with just one blip – we arrived in Moscow and our driver wasn’t there to take us onward.  Luckily the couple standing with us in the hour long customs throng were also staying at our hotel – The Best Western Vega – but on a different tour!  So we shared their taxi!  How lucky were we!

It was hot and sultry when we arrived but the Russian weather then became un-seasonally wet and chilly….We saw all the key sites  of Moscow by coach and had walking and metro tours.  The latter is very easy to use actually and artistically fascinating.  I  enjoyed walking in Red Square, the Impressionist collection in the Puskin Museum and I enjoyed sheltering from the rain listening to the high standard of licensed buskers in one of the underpasses. The rain was torrential at one point, so inside the Kremlin we were very glad to get into its cathedrals and armoury with its magnificent collection of valuables which were even more interesting knowing it was torrential rain outside!  There are no drains so the pavements are just running rivers.  Never been so wet!

We took the Sapsan (”high speed”) train to St Petersburg and in the day light we saw the endless forests and waste land punctuated by hamlets of woodern houses of varying levels of dilapidation.  Some hamlets had great mobile masts but not all had street lights nor tarmacked roads.  Even in the sunlight the stations we glided through belonged to towns that looked grim. But then we got to St Petersburg.  We came out of the station and thought we had arrived in Paris!  The BA check-in lady said to us ‘are you going to see the White Nights? – pop group? armoured horsemen? No, she meant the long daylight hours.  And yes we saw the sun still shining at 10pm in St P.

St P looks and feels European.  There are endless roads of beautiful buildings of the early 18th century built by French and Italians for Peter the Great.  The canals add to the attractiveness of the place.  It is magnificent.  The sights are stunning.  In our free time, we walked lots and soaked (different context this time) the place up returning back to our hotel, the Demetra Art Hotel, some 10 hours later….

Included were tours of the Winter Palace and Summer Palace (1 hour drive away)  which if you are familiar with them are sumptuously decorated and not to be missed. We chose to go to the Faberge museum.  Also, we did a canal cruise and we queued to see inside the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood – another amazing interior.  Nearly saw spilled blood in the throng trying to buy tickets to go in…

So to food,  we ate at a range of places.  The hotel buffet in Moscow, a canteen restaurant inside a supermarket with the locals, at a window in a wall where the locals order hot dog which came with a really, really nice cup of coffee – the best I’d had for ages actually. In St P we ate in local family run kebab restaurants, in a Russian Italian chain restaurant and snacked at open air snackeries trying cheese bread (bread with cheese inside) and potato pie (bread with potato inside).  However, there were few opportunities to eat cake.  In the Moscow hotel buffet they served little squares of traybakes for desert.  In the supermarkets there were more biscuits than cake on offer.  But I did spot this selection of special cakes in a supermarket (left) and at breakfast in St P we could choose a little traybake or even scrumptious macarons…. heaven……

    

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2 thoughts on “Week of 3 July

  1. Wow – can’t say Russia was on my ‘bucket list’ but after your descriptions I think I’ll add it!! Hope Jeremy is feeling better too after his accident. xx

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