Monday, 15 July 2013

Departing Latvia 13 July 2013

Up early Saturday morning to the Bus station where we boarded a Lux Bus to St Petersburg via Valga and Turtar (both Estonia) and Kingsepp (Russia). The bus was always on time accurately allowing for one lost hour crossing into Russia. Our transit driver was waiting for us at the bus terminal an we had a late dinner at our hotel and then flaked. It was a very long day. the Pushka Inn Hotel is a bit of a clever word play upon the fact that the prestudentsmises were the home of the famed Puskin family for a few years. It's quite a good hotel with a very good reputation with foreign tourists. The city officially five million permanent residents (unofficially many more when visitors, students, and migrant workers are considered). There are plenty of foreign tourists but they are probably outnumbered by tourists from within the Russian Federation. I am still getting over the  shock that drink and food is far dearer in St Petersburg than in Latvia.

So far, other than wandering about the streets, we have had tours of the Peter and Paul Fortress Island which includes the Peter and Paul cathedral and a still operating mint and saw various buildings of renown but no longer  have much of an idea as to which is which especially all the ornate orthodox churches built to honour some Tsar or the other or success in some battle. too much too soon and too many Peters, Alexanders, Elizabeths and Catherines, generals, writers, philosophers etc. Great memorials and buildings though. Nice wide streets as it is a planned city (started 1703). Today we went to the Imperial Summer Palace at Pushkin, a little up-country from St Petersburg. It was started by Empress Elizabeth and  extended by subsequent rulers; most notably by Catherine II usually known as Catherine the Great. It is ridiculously large and ornate but not original as it was extensively looted and damaged by the Germans during their seige of the city of St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad). They occupied Pushkin at that time. So the palace has been largely reconstructed from the ruins and the work is still continuing. The grounds of the palace are extensive and include other buildings, parks, gardens and water features. The adjacent hunting forest is no longer there though. As we understand it, the primary purpose of this palace was to impress visitors from other powers of the period.

You can see a selection of our photos in our St Petersburg album. We have also added a few to the  general Riga album.

No comments:

Post a Comment