Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Travels - Russia

I had always wanted to visit Russia. I don't know where the fascination with this country started but it had lots to do with the story of the last Tzar's family and their demise. Their tragic end fascinated me as a child. By the time I'd reached high school I had moved on to a deeper interest in the the plight of the Russian people and what transpired into the Russian Revolution and then Communism.

In 2005 I was single, teaching in London and trying to figure out how to spend my six week long summer holiday. I'm not brave enough to truly backpack on my own and had hear other friends mention a great organised tour that explored both Scandinavia and Russia.

I was sold.
I booked the tour. And my flights. And arranged the crazy visa you need to enter Russia.
I saved like mad.
I packed.
Then I panicked about joining a tour for 32 days on my own, not knowing a single other person.
I made it through Scandinavia (more about that amazing place another time) and arrived in....

St Petersberg

It is honestly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. Forget Paris, St Petersberg is the home of romance, style and beauty.

I have a very deep love of art galleries. I'm in another place when I visit one. I'm very lucky to have visited so many coveted galleries in my so far short life. One I'd been desperate to visit from a young age was.......

The Hermitage

This is one of the side roads leading up to the Hermitage. The other roads are quite spectular, coming off the water and maid thoroughfares. But I love this picture as it's so understated. It only gives you a glimpse of the greatness that you're about to walk into.

On my first visit we exited through this little courtyard. I love that the tree is trying to compete for attention with such a grand building by casting it's shadow. It looks as though it's trying to squeeze it's way into the photo.

On my tour's last day in St Petersberg a few of us revisited The Hermitage. I could have spent days there! Hopefully I'll get back there again.

How could you travel to Russia without visiting Moscow or Red Square?

St Basil's

GUM department store where I paid good money to use a squat toilet on the ground floor, completely unaware there were free western style toilets on the first floor.

The Kremlin and Lenin's tomb
It was so eerie filing past his tomb, everyone silent and peering through the dark to catch a glimpse of his wax-like corpse.

I still want to take the Trans-Siberian from Russia to China. It's on the travel list and I can't wait to cross it off!

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