St. Petersburg Touring, Part 2 (Russia 2014 Trip Report)

This entry is part 20 of 23 in the series Russia 2014 Trip Report

The second full day of our private tour was just as busy as our first!

Our started our day by taking us to a local bakery-type place called Stolle. They sold mostly savory type pies. It was a good light breakfast to start the day. We also walked around the area and took in the sights of St. Petersburg’s famed canals.

Canals in St. Petersburg

Stolle bakery in St. Petersburg Russia Canals in St. Petersburg Russia

By the way, can you tell there is some slight sunlight shining on the buildings? Well, it was the first sunshine we had seen since leaving Sochi a week earlier. Within a few hours, it was overcast again!

Canals in St. Petersburg Ken and I on canal bridge in St. Petersburg Russia

Our guide called one location the “Seven Bridges” lookout point. Standing at one particular point, you can see seven canal bridges.

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St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg

After checking out the canals, we went to St. Nicholas Cathedral (also pictured with the golden tower in the photograph above.) Photography was not permitted inside the cathedral, so we just snapped a few photos of the outside and its grounds. But the inside was very ornate!

St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg Russia St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg Russia

 

Along Nevsky Prospect

Following St. Nicholas Cathedral, we walked along the main St. Petersburg thoroughfare called Nevsky Prospect. Along Nevsky Prospect we stopped here, the Kazan Cathedral. (Again, photographs were not permitted inside)

Kazan Cathedral Kazan Cathedral Kazan Cathedral Kazan Cathedral

Nevsky Prospect was lined with ornate buildings and spectacular views of canals and cathedrals.

Along Nevsky Prospect Along Nevsky Prospect Along Nevsky Prospect Along Nevsky Prospect

And of course, we spotted American restaurants like Carl’s Jr. along some side streets.

Side streets from Nevsky Prospect

It’s worth noting that while walking along Nevsky Prospect, our guide told us to hold our cameras tighter and to be aware of our surroundings. I’m guessing it might be an area of higher pickpocketing activity. However, it certainly didn’t seem like a shady area or anything.

We stopped by a cafe/chocolaterie type place called Eliseyev Emporium for some desserts and hot chocolate.

Food cases inside Eliseyev Emporium Beautiful food displays in Eliseyev Emporium Inside Eliseyev Emporium Chocolate dessert Creamy hot chocolate

The cafe also had a very elaborate window display.

Window display at Eliseyev Emporium

We continued our walk along St. Petersburg streets, on our way to the famous Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

We walked past the Russian State Museum:

Outside the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg Outside the Russian State Museum Outside the Russian State Museum

And I just loved how colorful things were along St. Petersburg streets.

Walking along streets in St. Petersburg Walking along streets in St. Petersburg Walking along streets in St. Petersburg

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

When we arrived at the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, we were blown away by how beautiful it was. In Moscow, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is SO iconic. It’s recognizeable worldwide. But to be honest, it was plain in comparison to Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

By the way, that’s quite the mouthful. So I’m just going to refer to it as “the church” in this section.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood along the canal Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood along the canal

Inside, it was even more amazing. But first, a funny sign at the entrance to the church:

No chewing gum or ice cream | sign outside church of our savior on spilled blood

So everything other than chewing gum and ice cream are okay?

The inside was simply indescribably beautiful. And, it was one of the few churches we visited in Russia that permitted photography.

Views inside Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Views inside Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Views inside Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Views inside Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

The walls were covered with mosaic art.

Don’t know what I mean? Look more closely at these images on the wall. They are comprised of tiny stones! Can you imagine how long that must have taken??

Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Mosaic walls inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood was built on the site of what is known as the first terrorist attack in history. In 1881, Tsar Alexander II was assassinated when a bomb was detonated next to his carriage. The church was subsequently built on that site to commemorate him.

Inside the church, a canopy marks the precise spot of his assasination.

Canopy inside Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood Sign describing assasination of Tsar Alexander II

The Hermitage Museum

Following our stop at the church, we went to the Hermitage, which currently serves as an enormous art museum in St. Petersburg. Previously it served as the Summer Palace for russian Tsars. (The previous day we had visited Catherine Palace, which had served as the Winter Palace.)

The Hermitage has a distinct green color, even among the colorful buildings in St. Petersburg.

Outside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia Outside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia Outside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Inside, it definitely had a palatial look.

Stairs Inside the Hermitage Ornate walls Inside the Hermitage Inside the Hermitage Grand staircase Inside the Hermitage

And our guide, who so clearly loved art and art history, made the tour so interesting for us. She could hardly contain her excitement when walking into different rooms and explaining the art on the walls. It really made the museum experience even more amazing.

Hermitage Museum Visit in St. Petersburg Russia | Hermitage Review Hermitage Museum Visit Hermitage Museum Visit Hermitage Museum Visit

This room in particular was so amazing. It served as a ballroom when the Hermitage was a palace.

Ballroom at the Hermitage Ballroom at the Hermitage Ballroom at the Hermitage Ballroom at the Hermitage

It was difficult to capture it in a single image, but the gold leaf design on the ceiling actually mirrors the wood design on the floor in the ballroom!

Ballroom at the Hermitage Ballroom at the Hermitage

In another room, there was this very elaborate peacock clock inside the Hermitage. Once a week (and not the day we were there), the clock-keeper goes into the case and winds the clock.

Peacock clock at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg

Amazingly, there was some tour group that had paid extra to see the clock get wound, so we just stood around and watched it. It was a really fascinating process. I never thought I’d say that watching a clock get wound was fascinating!

Peacock clock at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg - Getting wound Peacock clock at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg Peacock clock at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg

There was an additional wing at the Hermitage that was under restoration that contained some impressionist and cubist pieces. So the halls they were displayed in weren’t nearly as ornate

Impressionist and Cubist pieces at the Hermitage Impressionist and Cubist pieces at the Hermitage

There was an incredible antiquities exhibit at the Hermitage that contained artifacts from the Altai mountains region. The artifacts are from cultures that lived in the 4th and 5th centuries BC! Here was an incredible chariot from that era on display.

Altai chariot on display in Hermitage

I’ll just let some remaining pictures of the Hermitage do the talking here:

Art inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia Art inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia Art inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia Art inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

After the Hermitage (we spent like FOUR HOURS in there, and probably could’ve spent more time if our tour wasn’t wrapping up. Oh, and if our legs weren’t killing us from standing all day).

We were starving, and couldn’t tolerate having to decipher any Russian menus, so embarrasedly, we went to a Pizza Hut that was nearby. Don’t judge! We had Russian food as a late dinner later that evening, including red caviar:

Russian red caviar

Ken also was coming down with a pretty nasty cold. Luckily we only had one day left in our trip! We found a pharmacy (and a super helpful pharmacist!) and Ken got some good cold meds and sore throat sprays. It worked “much better than the meds you buy over the counter in the US,” he said.

At dinner that night, our waitress asked us where we were from (although she mistook us for Russian! Just like everybody else in Russia seemed to do!) We told her, and that it was our last full day in Russia, and that we had been the Moscow and Sochi for the Olympics. She got SO excited when we told her we went to the Olympics.

She asked us what we thought, and we said it was so fantastic. She nearly started crying tears of joy. “Really??!!,” she said. We were like, yep! She said how happy that made her. That she couldn’t tell based on all the different news reports, she thought it might have been terrible for visitors.

For some reason, that memory just really sticks with me from our trip. Just how happy that girl was to know we enjoyed our time in Russia. It was heartwarming!


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