Monday, September 28, 2009
st petersburg - day 2 - catherine and paul's palace
Monument to the Heroic Defenders of the city during the World War II siege
On Sunday when we woke up the day was dark and quite gloomy. We had arranged to visit both Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (in the town of Pushkin, about 20 km from St. Petersburg) and Paul's Palace (Pavlovsk) located nearby.
During summer it's quite difficult to visit Catherine's Palace without a tour or guide (or otherwise be prepared to wait a long time in line) so we engaged the services of a private guide recommended by Natalia. Her friend Gennadiy Chentsov proved to be a most excellent guide and besides the palaces showed us a couple of very interesting places that we probably would not see on our own.
It was a Sunday so there was hardly any traffic to get to Pushkin, but unfortunately it also started to rain quite heavily on our way there.
Driving from the center on Moscovsky avenue we stopped at the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad during the World War II siege that lasted for 900 days. It's a most impressive monument especially from the inside.
We also stopped briefly to visit a monastery and a church near Pushkin, which the Romanovs used frequently when they were imprisoned in Alexander Palace.
It was quite crowded at Catherine's Palace but Gennadiy got us in quite quickly. Inside there were huge lines queuing for each room (a lot of Japanese tourists that day) so although the Palace rooms are beautiful, especially the fabulous Amber Room it was not the best day for a visit.
Outside the grounds seemed extensive and worthy of a more detailed exploration but with the rain setting in we had time for just a quick look before leaving for Pavlovsk (and a brief stop to see Pushkin's statue in the main garden in town).
Pavlovsk is a much smaller residence and not so opulent. It was not as crowded, so we were able to visit the rooms with a bit more leisure.
Again, we were frustrated not to be able to visit the gardens as we wanted to but the rain was literally pouring down and we were starving by then, so we decided to head back into the center and asked Gennadiy to drop us off in front of the Yusupov Palace. We bought our tickets first but before going in we had lunch at the Idiot, located a couple of blocks down the road (Moyka 82) and supposedly one of the best vegetarian places in the city.
The atmosphere is quite cosy, with various rooms filled with antiques and old furniture, bookshelves filled with books and a most interesting menu.
There was a complimentary shot of free vodka to warm up and we ordered the day's special, which included borscht and mushroom pelmini, both quite delicious. With our tummies filled and dried up from the rain we were ready to visit the next attraction...
More photos of the palaces here
(Thank you all for the comments on these trip reports and especially for sharing the memories of your visits to this wonderful city with me. Kate, I haven't seen the Russian Ark but I'm ordering it soon and am looking forward to watching it.)