Today I went to Peterhof to see the palace and the gardens. I went by hydro boat and went out to the Baltic Sea near the gulf of Finland. It took 30 minutes to get there. When I got there you could only buy tickets to the lower gardens at the first gate. I had a good look around – they go forever: fountains, statues, moats, small amazing buildings, also there is a beach.
I sat on the beach and rang my daughter Kelly as I was having trouble checking my credit card balance and needed her help. It was pretty amazing sitting on a beach in the sun talking to Kelly in winter in New Zealand. I was lucky enough that Kelly was with two of my other daughters – Tracey and Shellbe – so I got to talk to them quickly as well.
After looking around the gardens I decided to see the palace. The notice in English said “tickets inside” so I joined the line and waited for ages. Every ten or so minutes a women would pop her head outside, have a look, and duck back in. Finally the line started to move, I got near the top and asked the lady at the door if tickets were inside and she pointed that way so I gave my bag to the cloakroom and joined the line. So I get to the entrance and the women starts yelling at me and pointing, and to the Japanese chap behind me. I figure out where I have to get tickets and ask where, at which points she starts screaming in my face. The Japanese man started having a major melt down so I left him to it. It was strange - none of the tourists even blinked an eye at the commotion.
So out I go to find the ticket office, I get to an office that says clearly in English “ticket office open”. There is a queue of confused looking people, and there is a Russian guard moving a crowd control fence backwards and forwards, and lots of people trying to talk to him. I finally get up to him and after 5 minutes of him moving the barrier backwards and forwards he gets frustrated with speaking Russian to me and says in English “tickets are closed, come back at 1600”. I don’t think so, it’s only 11:30am, I will not hang around till then!
I do lurk around for 30 or so minutes visiting the chapel etc and go back past the ticket office just in case. There he is moving the crowd control barrier backwards and forwards, speaking Russian, and there is another crowd of confused people. I wonder to myself why not just lock the door and put “come back at 4pm”?
So I caught the boat back to the mainland and walked around for a couple of hours taking random photos, watching the crowds, and enjoying the sun – 20 degrees today! I then returned to my mission of finding the third floor at the Hermitage Museum and I do! I am pleased I found the third floor, there were some very nice paintings and statues including some paintings and pots by Picasso. I stayed at the museum for a couple of hours looking at stuff I had not taken in the previous time, and I also found my way back to the Peacock clock. I bought a DVD that has the museum and the clock opening in it.
I also saw the hanging garden again which I imagined as different from the reality. There are a number of hanging gardens at the palaces, they are gardens above the ground floor that the rooms open onto like an upstairs courtyard.
I then decided to go back to a restaurant that Igor had taken me to on the first day called Terrassa. It is on a roof top with a nice view so I thought it would be a great place to have a meal and a cold wine. I was pretty pleased I managed to find it! I got shown to a table and there I sat. I got the attention of the wait person a few times but no menu, after 40 minutes of no service I got up and walked out. I did tell the maitre d’ why I was going - clearly the Russians do not like single women in their nice restaurants by themself either.
Instead I went to a place along the Nevsky Prospect and had a cold beer called a Blanc and seabass and vegetables and watched the crowds.
I was walking around with my headphones playing the music on my phone today. I am not sure what I have done but the music is a mix of a continuous one song of the Doors and one of Ludovico Einaudi and so on.
Thoughts for the day
- The Russians have lots of coins, they have 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c, and they also have smaller than 1c – one of which says 10. The metro ticket office people get quite excited if you try to use one of those by mistake.
- When you go to the ticket office at the metro or the museum or anywhere, you can’t actually see the people, there is a gray screen with a slot in the bottom for you to put you money in. It’s quite disconcerting especially if you not really sure what you’re doing. They don’t like you looking up at the screen trying to see in either.
- In Russia the tourist attractions are set up for Russians,and there is an assumption that if you are not in a tour you can speak Russian.
So please note, that is two days in a row I have not got lost! I am now going with Daphne, Shirley and Wally to have a drink. Tomorrow (Saturday) we meet the other riders and have our riders briefing.
Discover Catherine’s Peacock Clock (skip to 1:16 for the clock)