There and Back Again

fff|ggg|petrogradskaya/P1020009|Peter and Rebecca in St Petersburg|ggg|fff

I’ve resisted posting a review of our trip due to the risk of turning into one of those dads from the fifties… setting up the slide projector (one of those home projectors under $500) and saying “and here’s Elaine at the beach, and here’s Elaine and the kids at the beach, and here they are again ten minutes later…” You get the picture.

Still. Many of you have asked for some more details of what we did and where we went and what we saw. I’ll do my best to summarize our trip for you. I am, however, going to hide the rest of this post for those of you who are not quite as interested. Click to keep reading!

Here’s the day by day rundown.

Monday/Tuesday: After a long overnight of traveling I was greeted in Russia by a pointy shoe wearing, female Customs agent who didn’t want to let me into the country. “Why?” you ask… Because the name on my visa was different from the name on my passport. Apparently they don’t see “official name changes” very often! We were met at the Sheremetyevo Airport by Kim’s friend Misha. He was kind enough to pick us up, drive us into Moscow-to Kim’s apartment, and show us around the apartment. We also registered our Visas so that we would be in the country legally.

Wednesday: An exciting real first day in Russia. Our first stop was ***The Kremlin|***. We had our first look inside an Orthodox Cathedral ***here|*** and got to walk where the Tsars walked. Cool. We also discovered that Red Square was closed. Alas! This trip would not see Peter and Rebecca Wood meeting the infamous Vladimir Lenin. Maybe next time.

Thursday: Although we are not connoisseurs of modern art we decided to check out the ***New Tretyakov Gallery|***, a museum of art dating from around 1900. We were especially intrigued by the Soviet Era “moving forward-progressive” art. We ate sandwiches bought from a roadside shop and then walked down to the ***Novodevichy Convent|***. It was a beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon.

After finally meeting up wtih Kim we headed off to the ***Bolshoi Theater|*** to see “Notre Dame de Paris.” It was a modern ballet (choreographed in the 1960s) based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but others weren’t so sure about it. Nevertheless, the theater was a work of beauty in itself.

Friday: A metro ride north of Kim’s brought us to the ***All Russia Exposition Center|***. We were big fans of the Space Obelisk erected out front. This was probably the most “soviet” feeling place we visited. Everything from the architecture to the music being played from hidden speakers in the streetlamps screamed “Communism!” to us. Sadly, the place is over run with retail electronics shops and the like.

Traveling south of the city, we visited a summer retreat of the Tsars: ***Kolomenskoe|***. It was Good Friday and there was a service being held in one of the churches on the grounds. The sounds of the priests chanting and the choir singing echoed into the park. What an experience.

Very Late Friday Night: Peter, Kim, Chris and I hailed a private car to take us to Leningrad Train Station. We boarded the “Red Arrow” train and settled in for the night. We remained on the train in varying states of sleep until 8am. A quick change of clothes and breakfast and we left the train and headed out into St. Petersburg.

Saturday: Kim took us on a walking tour of St. Petersburg starting with a stop at the local Blini shop. Mmmmmm, blini! (it’s like a crepe…) We traversed the city on foot making stops at several ***Canal|*** ***Bridges|***, the ***Bronze Horseman|*** and the ***Church of our Savior on the Spilled Blood|***. This church is full of icons that are completely made of mosaics. It is incredible!

Saturday Evening, Late Saturday Night, VERY, Very, Early Sunday Morning: After a (much needed) late afternoon nap we commenced the Easter celebration. We painted Easter eggs and had a little dinner and then cleaned up to go to Church. The Easter vigil is held until Midnight on Easter Eve. At Midnight the Priests, followed by the choir and the congregation, process out of the church carrying the cross and a few choice icons. We followed along as the procession circled the church. It was quite an experience.

After Church we went back to Luda’s apartment and partook in an Easter Feast. Eggs, Cheese, Easter Bread, Ham and some other goodies. We were also taught the “egg game” in which ***participants|*** go round the table taking turns knocking the next person’s egg with their own. The one left with an unbroken egg, wins!

Sunday: We took a short trip on the local commuter train to the town of Pushkin. Our destination for the day was the ***Catherine Palace|*** at Tsarskoe Selo. We toured the Palace, ate a little lunch and then spent the afternoon strolling around the grounds. We made a quick stop at the Alexander Palace as well. This was the home of Nicholas II (the Last Tsar) and his family.

Monday: More walking around St. Petersburg. The majority of the day was spent at the ***Peter and Paul Fortress|***. The cathedral within the walls of the fortress is where all (but 2) of the Russian Tsars are buried. Including Nicholas II, whose body (and those of his family) was moved there just a few years ago.

We had a late, late lunch at a “British Pub” and then made our way to see the ***Circus!|***. Although not something I would clamor to see at home, it was a very enjoyable evening.

Tuesday: An early start gave us time to walk through the Field of Mars and by the Summer Garden on our way to ***The Hermitage|***. Once at the museum we met up with Elena who gave us a nice, private tour of the Russian Culture galleries as well as many of the rooms in the Winter Palace. We made sure to see the DaVinci (Madonna and Child) and we took a tour of the Treasures Gallery. All in all, I’m sure we saw maybe 2 percent of what the museum had to offer. Elena promised to show us the rest the next time we’re in St. Petersburg.

The afternoon was full of boats. First the ***Battleship Aurora|*** where we walked the decks looking for ***Phil|*** who would hand us our next clue. [go ***here|*** to get the inside joke]

After the Aurora we took a ***canal and river cruise|*** that gave us views of the city that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It was narrated completely in Russian, but with our guidebook in hand we were able to give ourselves the tour. Phew!

Late Tuesday Night and into Wednesday We travelled back to Moscow on the overnight train again. This time, however, we travelled in a four person cabin instead of a two person. There wasn’t much difference, other than the lack of personal space. We made our way back to Kim’s on the Metro through the rush hour chaos and took a little nap before going out into the world again.

Wednesday: By this point in the trip we had started to lose a little steam. There was no big agenda for the day as we headed out, but we decided to poke our heads into Red Square one last time. After wandering around for a while we walked up to ***Arbatskaya|*** to meet Kim for lunch. We ate, and then walked up and down this “Downtown Crossing” of Moscow. There were many souviner stalls and several little shops on this pedestrian boulevard.

Once Kim and Chris had finished up a hard day’s work the met us for dinner at a ***Georgian Restaurant|***. Note the interesting ‘front door’!”

Thursday: Many, many thanks go out to Misha who came by this morning and took us back to the airport for our trip home. By the time he arrived we were all packed and had said our goodbyes to Kim. We were sad to leave, but looking forward to coming home and sleeping in our own bed.

The flight home was a little longer coming home, thanks to the Jet Stream. We were treated to a little live entertainment. The woman in front of us was returning home after adopting two Russian siblings- a little girl and boy. Iri and Slava, though they spoke no English and we spoke no Russian, chatted away with us for most of the flight from Moscow to New York. They were truly darling.

ggg|gostinyy_dvor/P1010761|Kim, Peter and Rebecca at the Banker’s Bridge|ggg

4 thoughts on “There and Back Again

  1. Susie

    Love the additional commentary. Was so sorry we had to split Rich and Julie’s party during the “presentation.” The photos are beautiful and I love hearing your stories.
    xo Sue

  2. Angela

    The Peter and Paul Fortress is shining even under a cloudy sky, which makes it look like it’s covered in gold leaf. Is it, or is it just a metallic paint?

  3. jennifair

    Wow, what a trip! The commentary was very good – short enough to be readable (considering the length of the trip) but still detailed enough to really know what happened. 🙂

  4. Pingback: World Wide Wood » Blog Archive » USS John F. Kennedy

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