Monday July 29, 2013
Today we had an early start, comparatively speaking . . . 8:15 with the Green Group and Nadia as our guide. We started out with a bus trip of approx 45 minutes to the town of Pushkin where we toured the Pushkin Palace. Pushkin is a bit of an upscale community with some very nice homes in it.
This palace is very beautiful and filled with many rooms and in particular is famous for its “Amber Room”. We learned all about Amber and it colours depending on the age of the
Amber. Once again this palace was very opulent with many, many rooms with lots and lots of gold.
This palace underwent extreme damage during WWII, in particular during it’s Nazi occupation. It came under heavy fire from ground battles as well as bombing. It has been reconstructed using black and white photographs taken prior to the WWII. There are numerous photographs showing the before and after. (More Pics)
The palace is also famous for its many fine gardens, ponds structures and statues. In one such building, that had amazing acoustics we listened to a four man choir who were nothing short of brilliant! We closed this tour with a visit to the gift shop as well as the market place outside the Pushkin Palace.
The reason for many of our early departures is the cruise line and other guided tours is to obtain admission before the general public and we usually have a separate entrance. We have much shortened queues and essentially just our group in each room. It works really well, except that there is never enough time to see and photograph all you want. They do keep you moving along!
We returned to the AmaKaterina for lunch and a brief rest prior to lunch. After lunch we headed off by bus to St Isaac’s Cathedral. In Russia a Cathedral means a number of churches under one roof. (see, I was paying attention to the Nadia). In the case of St Isaac’s there are four churches. This church is immense, both in it’s square footage and its cubic footage. There are gigantic columns that support the structure that must be 5 feet in diameter and they are numerous. The ceiling of the edifice is spectacular with many biblical scenes depicted. Lots of gold and lots of icons. There are also many gigantic mosaic reproductions of the originals. (More Pics)
We learned that St Isaac’s escaped damage during the war because the gold domes were painted grey and because of St. Petersburg’s usual weather the Nazi bombers could not see the the domes. I cannot begin to adequately describe the enormity of the structure.
There are no pews in Russian Orthodox Churches. Everyone must stand during the service. Exceptions are made for pregnant women and invalids. Pregnant women still must rise for prayer.
I am typing this blog on Monday and we have begun our cruise to Moscow. On our balcony I am looking out at five other cruise ships following a similar course. BTW it is 11:10 in the evening and the navigation lights are just coming on. “White Nights” in St Petersburg ended in June which means each night is getting a little longer, but it is still what I would only call “dusk” here.
Tonight, was the Captain’s Dinner and Champagne Welcome Party. It was really great as all of the Officers were introduced to the “Dear Guests” A tradition with AmaWaterways is at these dinners, every lady receives a Red Rose from the Captain. It also appears that every man then has to deliver the Rose to their room, before we start dinner. We had dinner with 4 travel companions, a couple from the North Carolina and a couple from Nottingham, England who have traveled together extensively. We had a really great time with them.
Earlier this evening I tried for at least 20 minutes to get an internet connection and failed to do so. Well, that is it for today. I hope I can send these past two blogs out soon.