We returned home from Russia Monday night, or 6 a.m. Moscow time. Most of my pictures are still on my husband's computer, but I have a few from St. Petersburg, much the best ones anyway. I'll post Moscow pictures and some comments on the experience later. In general, I'm glad to have taken this trip and to have seen the wonderful churches, art, and architecture there, and to have reviewed some of the history. But I wouldn't go back. More about that later when I have pictures to soften the commentary.
These are views of Peterhof, a palace constructed outside St. Petersburg by Peter the Great in the 1700s. The palace was behind the German lines surrounding St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) during World War II and was heavily damaged, so the building is a reconstruction. The furniture, paintings, statuary, however, were hidden before the war, and are mostly original. The gardens and fountains are breathtaking, much more appealing than Versailles. This grand cascade was designed by Peter himself, and uses no pumps, everything is gravity fed.
This shot gives some idea of the heavily gilded baroque interior. I'm trying to get a shot of the infinite view created by facing mirrors. There are mirrors along both sides and the end of the room, so the whole effect is an optical illusion making the room seem even larger and grander than it is already.
St. Petersburg and the Peterhof are full of tourists and tour groups as they're stops on many cruise ships' itinerary, so this city is relatively tourist friendly. But if you can see the expression on this palace "guardian's" face, you'll see that "friendly" is only a relative term! Our guide and many other people were wonderful, but there is definitely a grimness present all over the country which is startling to Americans. I'll talk about that later.