Oбед = lunch

DSC03445r

Lunch on our second day, was at our own expense, but the guide made sure that the restaurant that we visited was able to cope with 12 of us dropping in for a meal.

I asked the guide for a traditional Russian light lunch, not borscht or beef stroganoff. She’d chosen a restaurant that offered a type of wrap – it’s advertised in the above picture.

We all sat at different tables in blocks of four, which was the layout of the restaurant.

DSC03444r

We had a chat with the waitress, who was very pleasant and tried her best to understand us, but her English was very limited and our Russian was nil. I was trying to ask for a gluten free dish for Maureen, and we didn’t get anywhere until I called the guide over to help with the ordering.

DSC03447r

Our first priority were the drinks – I wanted Russian beer and the waitress kept pushing German beer, which was not much different in price, but when in a country I like to try their own beer.

The Russian beer, based on the menu card, was fine, but I was a little concerned because of the beer mats. The above beer mat is for Krusovice, which is a Czech brewery named after the village where it originated.

DSC03448r

 The crown shown, is not Russian, but Austrian, so as the beer I drank was draft beer, I am not sure if it was Russian or  Czech or even German.

DSC03446r

Regardless it was a pleasant drop that hit the thirst spot.

DSC03449r

Maureen’s gluten free meal – it looked attractive and from memory Maureen enjoyed it.

DSC03450r

I ordered the above, which was filled with a Chinese type vegetables, with chili sauce on the side. I’d only seen pictures and worked out that you could have two for a certain price or one for a cheaper price. I wasn’t sure if they meant double fillings or two full wraps, so just picked one, which was a specialty of the house. I thought that if they were small, and I was still hungry, I could always order another. As you see one was enough. Puff pastry filled with stir fried vegetables – it was OK, but I didn’t think this was particularly Russian – but I might be wrong.

DSC03451r

The experience was entertaining, the food OK, and beer cold, and we were on holiday so, can’t complain. The meal & drinks for both of us, cost less than USD $15.

Are You Free, Captain Peacock??

1200px-Eliseevs'_House_SPB_01

Elisseeff Emporium on Nevsky Prospekt.

Elisseeff Emporium reminded me of a visit to Fortnum & Mason’s in London. Elisseeff Emporium food hall was part of retail and entertainment complex, which was built in 1902/03.

Before this new building was constructed in 1881, there used to be a restaurant on the corner, which anti-tsarists used to dig a tunnel from the restaurant under the side road that can be seen from Nevisky Prospekt, in an effort to plant a bomb to kill Czar Alexander II. Everything was ready, but the Czar didn’t pass that way on that date. The Czar was assassinated later.

After the new building was completed it was under the control of the Elisseeff Brothers who were merchants.

Eliseev_Shop

The shop in 1904 – found the picture on the internet.

After the revolution in 1917 the shop was operated by a State company and called Gastronom No. 1, and so called until the 1990’s, when it was operated as “Eliseevsky shop” (a public listed company) in 1995, but the enterprise never really got off the ground, and there were various attempts to open businesses including opening as a perfume shop.

After a long period of restoration the shop eventually opened in 2012. The operator retained the old feel and the food hall now offers the traditional seven different food areas.DSC03454c

I took this as we entered, and later had to crop out certain 21st century signage – they just didn’t fit.

DSC03455r

It is a popular tourist spot – in the centre under the large pineapple, people were enjoying cups of coffee or tea.

DSC03456r

Piano music – classical tea time music that one would expect, was played by the invisible man. The keys were computer controlled, as you can see two keys have been played – it was quite relaxing.
The Australian readers would liken it to the live pianist in the David Jones Department store in Sydney.

DSC03457c The price of the middle white item is 120r, I think this means grams, so on the right it states 240 PY6 / RUB, so I assume it is 240 rubbles.
As far as I can make out 240 rub = USD $3.50 (approx) for 120 grams (just over 4 oz) of the cake.
The PY6 is a symbol for the Kopeks & it seems the Rubble, and there are one hundred kopeks in the rubble.

DSC03458r

They had individual stands dotted around, as well as traditional counters. The lady in red on the right is sitting for tea & cakes and just above her you can see a waitress.

DSC03460r

Fish counter all well presented.

DSC03459r Lightly salted salmon & trout & the eel was smoked cured.
Trout is 100 grams for 320 PY6 about USD $4.70
Eel 100 grams = 800 rubles about USD $11.75 (About USD $53.30 / Ib)

DSC03461r

Turkish delight and other sweet dishes.

DSC03462r

Hampers & dry displays – had a feeling of Christmas – but it was July . . .

DSC03463r

Decadent cakes for the proletariat.

DSC03465r

My favourite counter – glorious cheeses –
Swiss Briee – 100 gram (3.5 oz) 690 PY6 about USD$10.13

DSC03466r

Hard cheeses – young goat milk cheese – 800 (USD$11.75) for 100 grams.

DSC03467r

Special occasion cakes

DSC03468r

All items are made with chocolate – except for the tea set . . .
Chocolate shoe 240 grams = USD $22.00 (1500 rubles)

DSC03464r

They also sold foreign delicacies -couldn’t make out the price in the photograph for the British item.

They also sold wine and Champagne. Quite an interesting thirty minutes.

 

St Petersburg – Part four

DSC03230r

We were picked up from the ship at 7.30 am for another day of sight seeing with TJ Travel.

Our first stop was the the souvenir shop owned by the agency so that we could pay for our two day’s of sight seeing. The shop was quite large and the items on display interesting and not all that expensive, but looked better quality than other shops that we had visited. The cost for the two full days, which included lunch on the first day  was less than half of a similar itinerary offered by the cruise ship, and our group was only twelve people as against 40 to 50 for the ship’s tours. A little research returns a lot of money.

As we entered the agent’s shop we were offered tea or coffee or vodka, plain or flavoured, so of course, some of us had to try the plain & flavoured followed by cold water. It was 5.00 pm somewhere in the world, it was just that we weren’t there at the time.

Back on the bus for the day’s viewing.

DSC03229r

Kazan Cathedral

They began building in 1801 and finished in 1811, and it was General Mikhall Kutuzov, who visited the new cathedral to pray for help against Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812.
At that time the war against France was called ‘the Patriotic War’. Later, after Napoleon had been forced to leave Moscow and retreat over the land that he already ravished, and the Russian had burned during their scorched earth retreat, it was the beginning of the end of the Grand Armée of France.
After the French retreat the cathedral became a memorial to the ultimate victory of the Russians  against the French.

DSC03243r

While looking at the outside of the cathedral I saw this statue and thought I recognised the individual, because of my interest in the Napoleonic wars.

DSC03243c

I was correct it was General Mikhall Kutuzov – I asked the guide to make sure,  and she confirmed my observation. I didn’t go in the cathedral and spent some time talking to the guide about Kutuzov and the battle of Borodino in 1812. She seemed surprised at my interest, because I wasn’t Russian.

DSC03235c

Across the road from the cathedral is Singer House, as in Singer Sewing Machine.

DSC03242r

Also known in St Petersburg as the ‘house of books’.

Originally to be built as a skyscraper, similar to Singer Sewing Machine’s head office in New York.

250px-SingerBuilding_crop

Their head office was forty seven stories, built in 1908 and was the tallest building in the world until 1909.
Singer management wanted a similar building in St Pertersburg.

St Petersburg would not allow a building to be taller than the Winter Palace, which was the emperor’s residence. This would limit the height to a six story building and 23.5 mtrs. The architect added a glass tower and then a glass globe on the top. It gave a feeling of height without overshadowing other buildings.

800px-Eath-ball

In the first world war it was the US embassy for a short while, and in 1919 after the Revolution, it was given to the  Petrograd State Publishing House and soon became one of the largest bookshops in St Pertersburg, which is why it carries the title of House of Books.

DSC03240r

As I took the pictures of the Singer House I saw this building across the road. I’ve no idea what it is or its history but the one thing you notice in St Petersburg are the magnificent buildings that are no longer ‘Palaces’ or the homes of the aristocracy, yet still have that wow feeling that makes you wonder who lived there, who were they, and what happened to them . . .

DSC03252r

As we approached the landing stage to board our river cruise I saw another ‘I wonder?’ which was next door to much more modern building ‘White Night Music Joint’.

DSC03256c

‘White Night Music Joint’, fails to conjure up thoughts of 19th century balls with well dressed officers escorting gowned ladies on to the dance floor.

DSC03255c

We boarded our boat on the Griboyedov Canal, to sail down to the Neva River.

As we sailed under the first bridge a young man, perhaps no more than fifteen years old, waved at us, so of course we all waved back, and thought nothing of it.

DSC03302r

Buildings for the imagination on both side of the large canal.

DSC03260c

The next bridge and guess who is waiting to wave at us?
He waved, we waved, and he started running again.

DSC03263cr.jpg

DSC03270c

The next bridge – we were late or he was a lot fitter than we thought, and he was waving.

DSC03277c

DSC03290r

All our yesterdays on both side of the canal.

DSC03294rc

Our running man is there again, and he must have waved to us from five or six bridges before we entered the Neva River and lost sight of him. As we passed under the ‘waving’ bridges, the cheers of the passengers got louder, because he must have run miles, and at a very good speed, to beat the boat so as to be waiting on each bridge.

DSC03307c

We’ve entered the Neva River – could we have asked for better weather?

DSC03313r

 The Peter & Paul fortress from the river.

DSC03319rc

The small beach of the fortress.

DSC03322rc

The river side buildings and another tourist boat chugging along.

DSC03325rc

The yellow building is the Admiralty Building that I’ve mentioned before.

DSC03328rc

Who lives here now?

DSC03332rc

I wonder if they sell homes with water views or is that just in Sydney?

DSC03341r

We followed other boats and did a 180 degree turn to go along side the pier for disembarkation. It did go through my mind that we might meet our bridge runner, perhaps for a tip – he certainly deserved one for the entertainment that he gave us.

DSC03342r

The crowds have started to gather at the Hermitage Museum, as we are ushered in via a side door.

I never saw the bridge runner again.

 

 

 

 

 

St Petersburg – part three

1920px-RUS-2016-Aerial-SPB-Peterhof_Palace

Peterhof Grand Palace.

After seeing Catherine’s Palace we had lunch and were taken to see the fountains. There are 144 fountains and they are fed from a reservoir about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles), and none of the water is pumped because it is all gravity fed.

DSC03164r

We approached the palace from the landward side rather than the seaward. We did not enter the palace itself.

DSC03168r

The white building is the church of The Grand Palace.

DSC03169r

Where ever you looked there were fountains.

DSC03174r

We moved round to the front of the palace only to see more and more fountains.

DSC03175r

I’d read about the fountains and I’d been told of them, but when you see them in ‘real life’ it is something else considering their age and the sophistication of funneling the water to each of the 144 fountains in operation.

DSC03176r

The Sea Canal, which is open to the sea – you can visit the Palace area via boat from St Petersburg. To get to the Palace one would walk alongside the canal bank.

DSC03177r

You could have your photograph taken with people in period dress and the fountains in the background. The crowds around the period dressed attendants were to my left, the above picture is just to give you an idea what would be in your picture other than yourself.

DSC03180r

I can’t remember how much they charged.

DSC03182r

Definitely should be on everybody’s bucket list.

In the centre, on the rock, is a Biblical statue from the Old Testament – Samson and the Lion – it also represented Russia’s defeat of the Swedes.

depositphotos_103604290-stock-photo-the-samson-fountain-grand-cascade

A closer picture of Samson killing the lion and the water pours forth.

In 1734 the Russians decided to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. Once again it was a symbol of Russia defeating the Swedes, and they chose Samson as the hero, and of course the Swedes were the lion.
A special pipeline was built to carry the water because the Russians wished to maximise the height of the water. They created wooden pipes to carry the water the four kilometers from the water supply. It was completed in 1736 and the water shot up to a height of 20 mtrs (66 feet).
During WW2 the statue was looted by the German army, but the statue was recreated by the Russians in 1947.

DSC03183c

The Grand Cascade.

DSC03184r

In the centre of The Grand Cascade is a grotto, which contains a small museum of the fountain’s history.
There is an exhibit of a bowl of fruit (it’s not real fruit), which is a copy of a bowl of fruit on a table built under Peter the Great’s directions. The table is booby-trapped with jets of water that soak visitors if they reach for the fruit. I’m told that the grotto is linked to the Palace by a hidden corridor, which is so well hidden I didn’t see it . . . .

DSC03185r

Here’s the sad part with a sliver lining.

170986792-612x612

The Grand Cascade of the fountain, and the Palace behind, at the end of WW2.
Picture taken from the internet. You can see the grotto openings.
The Russians have done a marvelous job of reconstruction.

DSC03187r

Everyone was photographing everything – a perfect day thanks to the weather.

DSC03188r

Triton fountain

The Sea monster attacks Triton, the messenger of the sea and the son of Poseidon, but Triton’s powerful hands pulls the sea monster’s jaw open, and we have an eight meter (26 feet) water jet gushing out. The turtles crawl away in terror from the fighting enemies. Water jets spurt from their mouths.

Triton represent the young Russian navy that defeated the Swedish navy  in 1714. The Swedish fleet is the sea monster and the four turtles the allies that supported Sweden.

DSC03193r

Chess Hill or Dragon Hill as the water flows down. Funny, but this cascade reminded me of the cascade at Chatsworth House in the UK, which was completed in 1703.

2008-06-10 174

cascade

DSC03196c

I think this is called the Roman Fountain, but I’m not sure.

DSC03201c

Adam’s fountain. 1721-22

DSC03205c

Eve’s fountain. 1725-26

Both located on Marly Avenue, which is equidistant from  the Sea Canal. The water from the fountain does not get sprayed, but jets up, and upon reaching seven meters splits in to large drops and falls back to earth. These two fountains were never defaced or stolen so they are the originals created in the early 1700’s

DSC03203r

Sea Canal as we walked over a bridge toward the park and our transport. The Palace and The Great Cascade can be seen.

DSC03200r

We’d met our guide at 8.30 am, visited various places of interest along the Niva River, and walked around Catherine’s Palace – all before lunch.
A short break for lunch and we started walking again around the fountains. It was a hot day, and a full day, and now we had a thirty minute walk through the park to our transport.
I must admit that I was very pleased to see the bus, and climb aboard into a cool air-conditioned environment. We had a forty five to sixty minute drive back to the ship.
We arrived at 6.30 pm, educated up to my eyes balls in history, admired the fountains and felt jealous of the children running in and out of the water spray on such a warm day, but overall it was a great day, and well worth the money – which we had yet to pay on the morrow, befor our second full day of touring.

DSC03209c.jpg

After we’d hit the freeway / motorway, it didn’t take all that long before we saw the ship. You can see the freeway built over the water – I took the picture from the rescue centre at the stern of the ship – aka The Sunset Bar.

DSC03765r

 

 

 

 

 

 

St Petersburg – part two

DSC03095por

Catherine’s Palace at Peterhof (Petergof is the Russian spelling)

It was a warm day and I didn’t envy the staff in their period costumes. The picture shows the north side of the palace, or what was called the carriage courtyard.

The palace originated in 1717 by command of Catherine 1 of Russia. If you like a good tale look her up, because Voltaire  commented that her life was was nearly as extraordinary as that of Peter the Great himself.

DSC03097r

Views before we entered the palace, which was behind me.

DSC03098c

As we entered the building we went were asked to pass through security. I could see two men sitting at a desk watching us, so I climbed the small flight of stairs and entered the building. Only after passing through an archway did I realised that I’d passed through an X-ray machine, and shouldn’t have done so due to my pacemaker . . . .I checked the machine – it wasn’t working and didn’t look like it had been used in months, so I didn’t expect an ill affects. Normally security X-ray machines are very visible, with attentive staff, and I just wait to be patted down.
Before entering the viewing area of the palace we were given paper overshoes to cover our outdoor shoes, so as to protect the flooring.

DSC03101c

Two pictures to try and show how large the palace is – you can just see a small group of tourists. I was standing in the middle, which is the picture above my X-ray comment.

DSC03102c

Now facing the other way.

DSC03105r

DSC03107r

Everywhere I looked I saw gold and more gold. Some real some not, but which is which?

DSC03113r

Afternoon tea?

DSC03114r

A piece of fruit?

DSC03122r

The ballroom or Great Hall – our party was only twelve so not sure how many parties were going around. The room was 800 sq mtrs (8611 sq. feet) and in its day it took 696  candles, framed by mirrors, to light the Great Hall after dark. Note the ceiling  . .

DSC03125r

Tried for a better view of the ceiling, but . . .I didn’t have the flash on . .

DSC03127r

Part of the dance floor. Everywhere was elaborate to show power and wealth.

Now here’s a tale – Catherine 1 (as she became) had been a maid in the household of Peter the Great (he was born 1672 – died 1725) and he reigned as Tsar from 1682 to 1721 and then as Emperor of all Russia from 1721 to his death in 1725.

He took a fancy to Catherine and it is thought that they were married in secret in 1707 – and they had twelve children, but only two daughters survived in to adulthood.

Peter the Great moved the capital to St Petetersburg in 1703, and while he waited for the city to be built he and Catherine lived in a three roomed log cabin, which his soldiers had built in three days.

1280px-Domick_Petra_I

This is the historic site, but the cabin is inside this building, which was built later to protect the original log cabin. They lived as a normal couple, she looking after the children and the cooking and Peter tending the garden.

What Catherine suggested during a battle against the Ottoman Empire in 1711, is the bases of Voltaire’s comment. After the battle Peter the Great was so appreciative of her suggestion that he married Catherine again in 1712, but this time in public, and she became the Tsarina and later Empress.

They had two surviving children Anna 1708 & Elizabeth 1709. Both were illegitimate, but after Peter married Catherine in public, he legitimised the children.

Elizabeth was very like her father and he treated her as his favorite. In 1724 Peter betrothed Elizabeth to her cousin, who was a prince of impeccable background. By 1727, she was seventeen, her fiance had died, her parents had died, and her half nephew was on the throne. In 1730 her sister Anna became Empress on the death of her husband. She reigned until her death in 1740. There followed a year of regency until Elizabeth seized power and became Empress. She died in 1762 on Christmas Day.

DSC03130r

Elizabeth was extravagant with her clothing – she had 15,000 dresses – see a sample of one above. She never wore the same clothes twice.

DSC03136r

We passed in to a more private area of the palace .
Nicholas I – reigned 1825 – 1855.
He created the first Russian secret police.

DSC03141rc

Alexander III of Russia 1881 – 1894

DSC03142c

   Alexandra Feodorovna (6 June 1872 – 17 July 1918) – the Empress of Russia.
She died from a single shot to the head.

DSC03143c

Nicholas II of Russia – reigned November 1894 – March 1917.
Shot five times in the chest, 17th July 1917.

DSC03150r

I think this is the State Study of Alexander I.

There is so much to see, that a single day might not be enough, and to absorb all of the information is a feat in its self. A ‘bucket list’ destination for anyone thinking of visiting Russia. For me, the visit exceeded my expectation.

Palacio-Catalina-San-Petersburgo-Camara-de-ambar

Finally the Amber Room.

Photographing isn’t allowed so I had to download from the internet.

The original Amber Room was intended for the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, but it was installed at the Berlin City Palace. It was designed by a German sculpture and a Danish craftsman. It remained in Berlin until 1716, when Frederick William I, the King of Prussia, gave it to his friend and ally Tsar Peter the Great. Eighteen boxes were shipped and it was installed in the Winter House in St Petersburg.

In 1755 Czarina Elizabeth ordered the room to be moved to the Catherine Palace. The room covered about 17 sq mtrs (180 sq feet) and the Amber walls were studded with semi-precious stones, and backed with gold leaf. The estimated value today would be around USD $142 million.

In June 1941 the room was looted by the German army, and they dismantled the whole room within 36 hours and shipped it to Königsberg, Germany (which is  Kaliningrad today) and the room was installed in the castle. Alfred Rohde, a German art expert, took control of the Amber Room because his specialty was amber.

The room was on display for two years while he studied every aspect of its creation. In 1943, the end of the war was in sight, so he was ordered to repack the room and send it to safety. In August of 1944 the city was bombed by the allies and destroyed and the castle became a ruin.
Alfred Rohde managed to ship out part of the room, but he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, so he and his wife decided to stay in the city, which was now under siege by the Russians, during the battle of Konigsberg. The battle ended on 9th April 1945 with a Russian victory.
Rohde was fifty three, when he died in hospital on the 7th December 1945, and took the information about the Amber Room with him to his grave.

andrey_zeest_-_amber_room_2_autochrome

As usual with famous losses or finds we have the ‘curse’ –

according to the curse Alfred Rohde and his wife died of typhus (he didn’t), while the KGB were investigating the room (I don’t see the connection, but who am I to comment?),

General Gusev died in a car crash after talking to a journalist about the room  . . .another long bow . . and German army solider, Georg Stein, who was an amber room searcher, was murdered in a Bavarian forest in 1987 -connection??

The reconstruction of the room began in 1979 and it took twenty five years.

President Vladimir Putin, and the then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, dedicated the new room to mark the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg.

flag

The flag of St Petersburg.

 

 

 

 

St Petersburg – First impressions

DSC02965ar

Life can get crowded as the Arcadia arrives just behind us.

DSC02966r

Of course our old favourite had to join us  Sapphire Princess

DSC02969r

A short time later Queen Victoria arrived

DSC02968cr

and to top it all Marco Polo slips in . . .

Fortunately we were the first to arrive, so had clearance quickly. But to be fair the Russians had a number of cruise terminals and were quite efficient, if not all that ‘smiley’ at processing visitors.

I first visited Leningrad, as it was then called in 1965, and we arrived at 6.00 am. We were alongside a large public square rather than a dock area, and we were greeted by hundreds of teenage (both sexes) athletes running around this huge square. We were only allowed ashore as part of a group tour, operated at that time by the Government tourist office.

The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, and later renamed Petrograd in  1914 because of WW1, they thought the original name was too Germanic.

In 1924 it was renamed again, this time to Leningrad, five days after the death of Lenin in 1924. The city was named in his honour.

After 70 years it was renamed once more to St Petersburg after the fall of the USSR.

The ship’s tours were quite expensive so after a bit of research we picked https://st-petersburg-tours.ru/  who were very easy to deal with over the internet and arranged for our tourist visa.
That’s not particularly accurate because if you visit Russia off a cruise ship, and will not be staying longer than 72 hours, and will be sleeping on board, as against a hotel – you are not required to obtain a visa.
Passing through immigration was easy, about ten minutes because they had plenty of officers on duty. All we did was produce our passport and our TJ Travel tour ticket, that I’d printed at home, and that was it – passport stamped welcome to Russia.

On the landward side of immigration we passed through stalls selling souvenirs etc. and we exited the building. Maureen & I were a little early for our tour so we thought we’d go back inside to check the stalls and wait for our friends. We approached the door, but we were not allowed to enter and were told (in Russian & sign language) to go around the side – we did so and entered through another door to be greeted by a security screen and x-ray machines. All to hard so we waited outside and a few minutes later our friends arrived and the mini-bus from T.J Travel. Our party for the two day tour had a total of twelve so exiting and entering the bus as sites of interest was quite fast.

DSC02976r

The area around our berth was all reclaimed land and apartments had been sold promising sea views and small beaches. Like many developments around the world it didn’t take long for the land to be rezoned and the owners of the current apartments were not all that happy about new apartments being built between their homes and the sea, so blocking the view.

DSC02987r

Our first stop on the bank of the River Neva, which runs through St Petersburg, was at a sphinx. I think there are fourteen sphinxes in and around the city but the sphinx on the river bank is the most famous. They are around 3500 years old and were imported from Egypt around 1832 and bought for 64,000 rubles , which today is about USD $1000.
At that time they paid in silver rubles, and one silver ruble dated 1841 sells to day for USD $500.

DSC03000c The Rostral Columns

They used to be beacons or lighthouses and the basin at the top would contain the oil.

DSC03013cr

The beacons are only lit now for special occasions.

DSC02997r

The palaces and buildings across the river I found attractive – the Admiralty Building right opposite the Rostral Columns.

cr

The other side of the river from the Rostral. Tried to capture the grand houses etc.

Aurora_1903

The one historic item that I was waiting for was the cruiser Auroa , launched in 1900, she took part in the  Battle of Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. She managed to escape and made her way to Manila where she was interned for the rest of the war by the Americans. She was handed back to Russia in 1906. In 1917 she was in St Pertersburg for repairs when she was seized by the crew. At 9.40 pm on the 25th October (local time) 1917 she fired a blank shot that signaled the start of the attack on the Winter Palace, which was the beginning of the October revolution.

DSC03031r

Moored in St Petersburg today.

During WW2 they removed the guns and used them in defence of the city during the 872 days it was under siege by the German / Italian army. The siege began on 8th September 1941 and went through to 27th January 1944. It is estimated the Germany lost 580,000 troops killed or wound during the siege and the Russian lost 3,436,066 killed and wounded. Many were civilians who died of starvation. Many of the historical building that we visited during our two days had been damaged through bombing, shelling and by fire. I think they have all been restored to their forma glory and during out visit to the Hermitage Museum we saw photographs of the museum after the bombing – a blackened shell of its former self. The restoration team have done a magnificent job.

DSC03038r

John and I were considering Auroa for the new position of HMS Conway, to be moored in the Menai Straits just off Plas Newydd, in Anglesey.

ConwayHMS Conway moored off Plas Newydd
We both joined Conway on the same day in 1960.
John remained working at sea until he retired last year after many years as a Master Mariner.DSC03019rThe Peter & Paul fortress – Peter the Great had this built for defense against the Swedish forces during the Great Northern War (1700-1721), it was designed as a star fortress.

 

aerial-view-the-peter-and-paul-fortress-in-st-petersburg

The above was copied from the internet – on the main river side it has a small beach.

beach

When we were in St Petersburg it was warm enough to sit on the beach, but I bet they have the shortest of seasons. The above is from the internet.

DSC03319cr

Taken from a boat on the river – we were quite a distance away but with cropping and zooming it gives you an idea.

There were many statues & monuments that we were shown, but I was interested in the people, and a visit to a local farmers’ market called, I think,  Kuznechnyy Pereulok, I found interesting.

DSC03060r

Couldn’t resist the tram, which we didn’t use.

DSC03061r

On the left counters full of cheese and on the right fresh vegetables.

DSC03065r

For the carnivores  . . .

DSC03066cr

Garlic of sorts, not long after they had opened –
the assistant is either asleep or on Facebook..

DSC03067r

In the centre a colourful display of fruit and veg. If looks could kill!

DSC03068r

If you like fresh bread, don’t buy the above, because they are all made of cheese – none of the items contain flour.

DSC03064r

Perhaps a chocolate to finish the meal.

The stall holders have to pay for the space of course, but outside the station along the pavements edge are others selling food cheaper, but risking prosecution if the police arrive.

DSC03071r

We start our way down to the rail-metro network, one of the deepest, if not the deepest network in the world. Built to be used as a bomb shelter in case of a nuclear attack, as well as move people around the city. The deepest part is 86 mtrs (282 feet) and the system handled 740 million passengers in 2016.

DSC03072r

It is so deep the escalators take over two and a half minutes to get to the bottom. For an average a Russian worker using the metro everyday, five days a week, fifty weeks a year, he /she would spend about two days (48 hours) a year on one of these escalators.
Notice the lack of advertising, we saw plenty of people reading books or messing with their phone, during the transit to/from the trains.
Extrapolating the figures for 2016 the citizens of St Petersburg spent over four million years riding the escalators – and I allowed each one to have two weeks off :- o)

DSC03074r

We’ve reached the bottom.

DSC03077r.jpg

Our train has arrived – they run about every two and a half minutes. Note the lack of rubbish or graffiti.

DSC03079r

The only underground memorial statue in St Petersburg, it is a statue of Alexander Pushkin.

DSC03084r

 Beam me up Scotty! (which was never actually said in Star Treck)
Perhaps it is a stairway to heaven
At the bottom of each escalator a person sat in a small hut and watched what was going on in case of an accident. I’ve no idea how long they were expected to sit and watch . . .I couldn’t think of a more boring job, but still an important job, someone had to shut off the power in an emergency.rc

Daylight again and on to the next place of interest.

Estonia

DSC02876c

Our next stop was Tallinn, which is the capital of Estonia.

Estonia’s flag is blue, black & white as you see in the photograph. The blue, black and white flag was consecrated by the members of the Estonian Students’ Society on the 4 June 1884.

Apparently there are a number of reason why they have such a flag, but the most popular is that the blue is a reflection of the sky and the lakes of the country. I’ve read that the black represents the black coats warn by Estonian men, but I have also read that it represents the oppression of foreign invaders, such as Russia, when she was known as the USSR, and Germany during the Nazi regime in the early 1940’s. The white is for the aspiration of the people for purity and light.

Tallinn is where we docked along with a number of other cruise ships,

DSC02847r

Sapphire Princess (on the left) – I think she has a ‘thing’ for Celebrity Silhouette, because she has followed us from Southampton.

The city and her port was a strategic location for trade between Russia & Sweden since the middle ages.

In 1651 the city was known as Reval and was a dominion of Sweden. During the great Northerner war between Sweden & Russia and her allies ( 1700-1721). Reval changed again after they surrendered to Russia in 1710, but managed to retain self -governing, and retained their economy and traditions.

During WW1 Germany over-ran Estonia as the Russian army retreated. In February 1918 Estonia issued a declaration of independence, which Germany did not recognise, but when Germany was defeated, she withdrew her troops from Estonia and handed over power to the Estonian Provisional Government. This when Reval became Tallinn.

Later in 1918 Bolshevik Russia invaded Estonia and a war of independence followed, with support for Estonia from Latvia, Finland, White Russians and the British. The Russian were defeated and Estonia was international recognised, and she joined the League of Nations.

Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best Medieval cities in Europe and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a place that Maureen and I would like to visit again and stay a few days.

DSC02850r

I know it isn’t medieval, but we were on our way to the old town and the tram attracted me.

DSC02852r

I was told about this building, but have now forgotten the details. The shape of the shirt in the brick work was unusual, which I why I clicked the camera.

DSC02859rc

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the old town area. Opened in 1900

DSC02863r

 A closer shot.

DSC02865r

The other side – I did take a picture inside, but was asked not to take any more, which is why I don’t have any inside shots. It was a typical Russian Orthodox church with gold icons, ornamental displays and electric candles.

DSC02867r

Tourist train in front of the Russian church.

DSC02868r

I wonder what Estonian is for Thomas . . . the registration plate begins with TH . . .

DSC02869c

Cobbled street and light coloured buildings – we’d gone back in time.

DSC02875r

Voldemar Panso memorial –
he was a producer, actor, teacher, drama critic 1920 – 1977. Unfortunately the picture is not clear enough to show the hand stretched out to those who listen and watch

ee021-2

This is a better image I obtained form the internet.

DSC02876c

Estonia is in NATO & the EEC, the EEC flag is behind the flag on the left you can just see the stars.

DSC02877r

Old world charm,cobbled streets again.

DSC02881c.jpg

Pastel colours wherever I looked .

DSC02882c

DSC02883r

We walked around the old area of the heights, but were never very far from the Russian church.

DSC02886r

There was always a street that I wanted to walk down, but the guide kept us together.

DSC02887r

St Nicholas’ Church’s spire, and a view across the old town.

The church was originally built in the 13th century, but was bombed in WW2 by the Russians, and the fire destroyed most of the interior. It was restored after the war starting in 1953 and completed the work in 1981. Unfortunately in 1982 fire destroyed the tower. It was once again restored and turned in to a museum and concert hall in 1984. As a concert hall it very popular due to the acoustics.

DSC02905c

This building used to be the home and palace of a Swedish officer who moved from Sweden. The main house was built in 1809 and after restoration in 2003 it became the Office of the Chancellor of Justice of the Republic of Estonia.

The motto over the front means something like – with the good wishes and favour of family.

DSC02910r

The old castle walls.

DSC02911c

As we passed through the walls we met  . . . . . there are three of them and they are all faceless (bit like a government bureaucrat). They stand in the Danish King’s Garden,

 

DSC02912r

In my opinion they are not all that attractive, but what would I know of art . . . I’m six feet tall so it gives you an idea of how big the guy is on my left.

DSC02914r

A passageway down to the lower area of the old city – it had just started to rain so the steps were slippy.

DSC02920r

A short walk from the bottom of the steps and we were in the old town.

DSC02922r

A town where you could spend hours just wandering around, or sitting in a cafe and watching the world pass you by.

DSC02930rc

Crowds picking up

DSC02931r

More hidden alleyways. We did walk through this archway later but approached it from the other end.

DSC02936r

You can visit the oldest pub in England, or the oldest castle or the Old Curiosity Shop, but in Tallinn you can visit the oldest chemist – for my British friends, pharmacy for Australians or drug store for the Americans, in the world.
In other words a shop that dispenses prescription medicines. The one we saw has been going since 1422 and is still

DSC02935r

open for business.

A few doors later we passed an EEC import –

DSC02937r

Mad Murphy’s bar

DSC02938r

I’ve read that is used to be Molly Malone’s.

Perhaps it is me, but why would I want to visit an Irish bar in Tallinn? I want to experience local drinks and ambiance . In Dublin I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Irish pubs.

As well as being  seaport and encouraging tourism, Tallinn has also been called the ‘silicon valley’ of the Baltic by the New York Times. For those who use SKYPE you must thank the people of Tallinn, because this is where it originated. The city has now become one of Europe’s main IT centres, and the city is now twined with Los Gatos in California.

Skype

DSC02898c

This bird wasn’t a bit frightened of us  . . .I must admit that for me, it is only in the UK that the cry of the seagull is so distinctive that it brings back childhood memories of the seaside.