I slept in a bit and headed over to the Hermitage, according to Lonely Planet, the early bird (or the late bird) gets the prize of shorter lines and on the first Thursday of the month (today) admission is free. I was extremely good as I waited in line for the museum to open, I had breakfast (cheese toast and cherry juice), (pre)wrote all my blog entries up to this point of my trip, and planned the rest of my trip. Quite the multi-tasker, huh?
I would guess that the line for the Hermitage was somewhere close to 200 people in front of me at 9:30am, the museum by the way opens at 10:30am. I was in the fourth group that was let into the museum. I decided to be very cheap, it was about 100 rubles for the right to use a camera inside the museum, and another 500 rubles or so for each of the special exhibits, I figured that a museum as big as the Hermitage, I could get by without paying for the other exhibits and be just fine.
Highlights from the Hermitage:
- Louis Leopold Boilly
- Cezanne’s Self-Portrait
- Paul Signac’s Sortie du Port de Marseilles
- Henri Rousseau
- Afro Basaldella – very similar to Kandinsky with a touch of surrealism; the Third Baronness
- Andre Derain’s Nature morte and Bois
- Amedie Ozefant’s Nature morte. Vaisselle.
- Venanzo Crocetti’s Head of a ballet-dancer and Model for a door of St. Peter’s in Rome
- restored Icon Virgin Tendreesse
- Mark of Johann Jeremias Busch (Augsburg, Germany)’s Lavabo
- Mark of Johann Andreas Thelot’s House Alter
- Christian Rauch’s Angel
- Joseph Grimmer’s Landscape with Carnival
- Vassily Kandinsky
- Friedrich Johann Overbeck’s The Triumph of Religion in the Arts
- Caspar Favid Friedrich’s Morning in the Mountains and Swans in the Reeds
- Alfred Rethel’s Nemesis
- Nemechky Master
- James Cox’s The Peacock Clock
So I think that I screwed up…I should have visited the rest of Western Europe before coming to Russia because everything else will pale in comparision, I think. I haven’t been to the L’ouvre yet, but I can’t really think that it can match the Hermitage at all. I would seriously pay money to only look at the floors and ceilings at the Hermitage, they were that beautifully crafted. I would guestimate that I only saw about 85% of the Hermitage and the parts that I saw blew me away, along with painting and sculptures that I honestly never thought that I would see live in person and ones that I never knew existed.
Oh and one of the obvious highlights for me…the recreated library. Of course one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was, ‘what do I have to do to move in here? I promise to take really, really, really good care of all the books like they were my kids.’ Two stories tall, full of books. What more could I ask for??? 😉
And yes I did buy a book (surprise!) so I could drool over anything again at a later date.
After a fabulous morning taking in the sights at the Hermitage, I walked by the river to Sadko Restaurant, a traditional Russian restaurant, that’s right across the street from the Mariinsky. SOAPBOX ISSUE: While I was eating at Sadko, there was a large family of Americans, yes they were a bit loud, but it was a large, mostly empty room, with echo capacity and there was at least ten people at their table. We’re in this beautiful, gorgeous Russian restaurant, known for its authentic Russian food, at least according to Lonely Planet and from the mostly Russian customers I saw and heard. And the teenagers are ordering burgers and fries. You came all the way from the States to Russia, Russia, and eat burgers and fries????
Back to my adventures from St. Pete’s….
Then I got lost because of the city planning issues that St. Pete’s has, so a nice Russian guy (although I’m pretty sure that he’s motives were more along the lines of talking to the really foreign girl) helped me find St. Isaac’s Cathedral. An interesting moment was when I asked a woman if bus 22 stopped at that particular bus stop, she looked at me like I was clueless and then pointed to the sky. Because as I’m sure you all know my first inclination is to look up in the sky for the sign that tells you which buses come to the bus stop and not under the sign that tells you this space is a bus stop.
Eventually I found the box office and the entrance for St. Isaac’s Colonade. I definitely worked off everything that I had for lunch going up those stairs. The view was spectacular, the day was clear and sunny with random clouds (the light, fluffy ones that babies come from ;D)dotting the skyline. But it’s not the safest place, there’s barely room for two people to pass each other and even less when someone is trying to take a photograph. It’s not like the tower in Ostrava, that’s actually be constructed for people to be up there. I’ll admit too, that I was saying the Our Father and a Hail Mary or two as I was walking down the metal staircase to the tower as I leaving the colonade.
I made it to the Cathedral of the Saviour on Spilled Blood…before you die, you have to go inside…it’s definitely bucket list material. Every inch of the walls and ceiling were different parts of the Bible and symbols usually associated with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Mary illustrated with mosaic tiles. And because everything wasn’t a fresco, you would freely take photos without fear of destroying priceless art. I wished that I could have stayed longer (like years) but it was too crowded so it really wasn’t possible to just simply stand and take everything in piece by piece.
For dinner I went to a Georgian restaurant, Kat Kafe, near the train station and my hostel. And then it was another night train, this time back to Moscow.