When I went to sleep last night it was light – and when I woke up it was light! Not surprising given it doesn’t get dark till 11:30pm and dawn is at 4am, but twilight finishes at 1:15 and starts at 2:30!
I woke up around 6am and sorted out some stuff then went down to have breakfast. There were all sorts of different foods, some I will try over the next week and some … maybe not … but I settled on porridge and pancakes. The pancakes were what we would call pikelets and came with jam and a type of sticky custard.
At 8:40am I set off with my fail safe directions to met Igor at the palace square. I felt quite confident at first , then it started pouring and then I realized I was lost. I spoke to a couple of people but they did not speak English. To add to my confusion, there was a marathon taking place so every time I wanted to cross the street I had to dodge runners! At one intersection the green light to walk was not going and when I was waiting at a major intersection, there were two traffic police, one was yelling at me but of course it was in Russian so I had no idea what he was saying and he started to sound quite angry, so in the end I ran across a gap in the traffic and the runners. Probably what he had been yelling at me to do as he didn’t shout at me when I was running.
After walking for quite a while I found a taxi and arrived at the square. It took me awhile to find Igor as our meeting point was also the finishing point for the marathon, and there was a crowd of people (I should have just followed the runners!). Luckily Igor was still waiting for me, even though I was nearly an hour late. Igor had not realized the marathon was happening, but he was a gentlemen to not mention that the first runners had just come in, and had I been on time there wouldn’t have been a crowd.
The first thing we did was to go for a walk and see so many amazing buildings, palaces everywhere and cathedrals and buildings all with the most amazing and detailed sculptures, turrets, and intricate design. There are so many museums and art galleries I would need to be here for a month to visit them all. There is a museum of curiosities, the main museum has paintings by many famous artists and there is a huge museum with art of only Russian artists.
Today I saw the famous statue of Peter that took 12 years to build, and we went into St Isaac Cathedral – first we went up 250 steps to the 2nd level where you can walk around the outside and see the views. My mind is reeling with all the cathedrals, museum, and art galleries you could see. We then went inside, oh my god it was so beautiful, I had tears in my eyes. A lot of the paintings are not actually paintings but mosaic works. This place took 50 years to build and is on the site of 3 previous cathedrals. We then had something to eat at a restaurant made famous as Pushkin used to write his poetry there. He had supper there before he left for a duel – he died three days later from injuries from this duel. Then we set off to St Catherine cathedral, which was also beautiful .
We went on a boat trip around the waterways river and canal, and saw many beautiful things. We sailed around the Peter and Paul fortress. Igor took me and showed me where the Russian Museum was next to a cathedral that
was built for the memory of Alex the 2nd to commemorate the spot where he was killed.
Igor then arranged that tomorrow I will meet him at the same place as today but in the afternoon and I will visit the Russian museum and the above cathedral first.
To facilitate this happening, Igor took me to the Metro and caught the Metro with me and then walked me to where I could see the hotel, thereby ensuring that I would not keep him waiting tomorrow and would get back to my hotel safely. He also programmed his cell phone and a taxi number into my phone for me.
I have taken lots of photos but even if I could follow instructions in Russian, the internet terminal here was born long before this technology was possible. So I will do this when I am able.
Now I’m off to put plasters on a couple of blisters, have something to eat and then bed. It is 9:17pm here, so about 5am in New Zealand I think.