Sometimes, it’s the interesting quirks that make a holiday enjoyable. So, yes, we set out to see an ornate grocery store, known as
**so this SHOULDA published, but didn’t 🙁 It’s now outta the flow of posts**
St Petersburg train station – after four nights in St Petersburg, we’d planned to head to Moscow by train. Something we thought would be relatively simple and a well worn path.
Stress to another level that til now I’d not come across despite “worrying” about it before departure. There were countless windows and machines. The machines appeared to what a card, so we went for a line. None of the lines seemed to move with any regularity. The only details on windows where listed time ranges – countless time ranges. No destinations were listed at any window.
One day in St Petersburg, we decided to go to Peterhof, a palace built by Peter the Great. I could try and recall the details, or you could Wikipedia that! It’s often called the Versaille of Russia, and you can see why.
Back in St Petersburg city, and on another day, we decided to find these pretty gargoyles at a canal pedestrian bridge:
Actually Babushka’s were amazing – and usually call Matrushka’s in Russia. They’re often created by three seperate artists – one for the face, one for the shawl/back, and one for the belly, wich can be scenes from fairy tales.
My holiday started with flying into St Petersburg, spending four nights there with my brother, followed by four nights in Moscow.
The hotel we selected in St Petersburg couldn’t have been better located – it was on one of the many man made canals, within a short walk of the Hermitage/Winter Palace and the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood. I’m not sure I was aware of this, but after checking in, I decided to go for a walk around the nearby streets and discovered these wonderful facts! My brother’s flights weren’t due til around 10pm, so I had some hours to kill.
The hotel was also generally lovely – they realised they’d put the two beds together and called to say ‘when you go out, let us know and we’ll change it’ and then when I went to reception to let them know, they knew which room I was in (from sight, and this hadn’t been the lady I’d checked in with!). Their service, the little we used it, was exemplary. We noticed that others asked a whole lot more of them, and I can see why – they would not be disappointed!
The room was rather ornate, and the exterior was of the similar style to most surrounding buildings, ornate. Peter the Great’s city was built to strict guidelines, including no gaps between buildings. That meant our building, and others, had driveways into the heart of them, and interior courtyards. Inside the room, I was impressed by the level of style and detail. Curtains with two fabrics and a decorative trim between them. Mirrored wardrobe, and the mirrors were bevelled and in a criss cross pattern. Lovely wooden floors.
Below is my thoughts at the time:
As I mentioned in my annual goals post and my bucket list – I want to visit much of Eastern Europe – Russia, Romania and Bosnia.
Russia is one of the BIG national powers. I loved Paullina Simon’s books, particularly the Bronze Horseman, and I am in awe of the majestic religious buildings, particularly in a communist country, which in other nations has totally destroyed religious buildings. I used to think the ‘cold war’ was over – having just watch The Bridge of Spies, but then I applied for my visa and I’m not so sure. It was incredibly thorough!
(this routine was in the film, and I can guarantee they match! Though the film’s music was even more emotive)
Romania is definitely off the ‘usual’ tourist path. Since 2006’s trip was cancelled whilst I live in France, it’s been on my ‘one day’ list. The first reason for Romania is my fanatical interest in Nadia Comenici – when mum had to go into school on school holidays, she used to put this on to keep us kids quiet. I am not one for learning to rote a movie’s script – but this film (Nadia) I can! The film is SO old I have a copy on VHS! It doesn’t exist in DVD or anything new fangled like that. The second reason is that I made a very close friend in first year university who was Romanian, so I’m curious to see his home town. In 2006, I booked flights to Romania, however it wasn’t part of the EU and required evidence of USD100 per day! As a young student, I didn’t have that sort of cash sitting idly (I was working as an au pair)! It was just too hard to get a visa, so at no cost Air France let me change my fare and I went to Rome, which was memorable and delightfully crisp. To ensure I wasn’t just a dreamer, I’ve read two books set in Romania recently – one at a beachside town where they defect to Turkey. Another was an American based in Romania with a few other shady characters, trying to survive in the communist state that was slowly dis-assembly all relics of the past.
Bosnia is probably best described as ‘trauma tourism’ or similar. The same things that draw me to Holocaust memoirs and visiting Jewish museums interests me in the war. And… I have an ex boyfriend who is Bosnian. He shared so little of his culture, but I was always incredibly curious about him and his childhood, having migrated at the age of 12. Again, I’ve tried to read to ensure I have a better idea of what I’m visiting, and I’m incredibly curious to see this junction of ‘East meets West’ particularly as we’ll now also visit Turkey, which has similar parallels.
So, to date, I’ve booked the long haul flights, in addition to accommodation in two cities of Russia, a flight to Romania, and accommodation in both Bucharest and Sarajevo. It’s a solid start and I just need to keep chipping away at booking for air travel and hotels. Thankfully my younger brother is a champ, and happy to go along for the ride. I bet he ends up knowing all sorts of quirky historic facts, cause he’s that type 😉