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Observations on the Imperial Russian Waterways Tour (3)

已有 7138 次阅读 2012-10-7 11:38 |系统分类:图片百科|关键词:学者

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Final part of the Russian Waterway article:

 

We landed in St Petersburg on the seventh day of the cruise (10th day of the trip) and once again connected with the world via e-mail and the Internet. St Petersburg is known as the Venice of Of the North or the Paris of Russia. If you compare St. Pete with Moscow than it is very much like comparing  Shanghai  to Beijing or New York city to Washington, DC. St. Pete is more cosmopolitan, glamorous, and elegant while Moscow is the power center of the country. St. Pete sits on the delta of the Neva River which empties into the Bay of Finland. Rivers, Canals, and bridges are everywhere in the city which is why it earns the moniker of Venice of the north.

Peter’s Fort of St. Petersburg from the Neva River

 

In 1973 we only stayed in the city and visited the hermitage and Peter's fort which were only partly restored. The restorations of the magnificent palaces of Catherine and Peter the great in the suburbs of the city both of which were nearly completely destroyed during the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) have not yet begin. Now they have only just been put back in their original splendor (2012). After another generation and untold billions of dollars we were able to visit these two palaces and gardens in two days (The government did not announce the costs of restoration. The only known cost for restoring one of the hundreds of rooms in the palaces – the famous Amber room – was US$13 million).

 

Catherine’s Palalce

Peter’s Palace in Peterhof

The  Catherine's palace and the city of Peterhof where the palace and garden of Peter the great is situated being the legacies of Czars Catherine the Great and Peter the Great are truly tremendous monuments.  Other European palaces, such as Versailles and Buckingham cannot compare with these in lavishness and imperial grandeur. All wall carving and statures are painted with real gold. The forbidden city in Beijing can even be considered shabby in comparison. I recall in 1973 after visiting the then partially restored Winter Palace and Hermitage, I said no wonder the Russian people finally revolted. On seeing the palaces of Catherine and Peter, one is even more convinced that too big a gap between the rich and the poor for a nation is the source of trouble.

Scenes of Peter’s Palace Garden on 1000acres



Yes, all the colors you see in these pictures are real gold paint. Hundred kilos of real gold were used in the restorations.

One of the palace dining rooms

Reception room

Porcelain stove for heating room

On the last day we revisited the Winter Palace and the connected Hermitage (Catherine’s museum) in the city. The restoration of the place were only completed in 1997. Thus we saw completely different sights and exhibits from 1973. Like the Chinese Palace Museum in Taiwan, the collection of the Hermitage is so extensive that only 10% can be exhibited at any one time.

 

Winter Palace and the Hermitage

Hermitage Corridor

We have found that at our age the limit of our physical endurance for tourism is a 2.5 hour walking tour provided we can find places to sit every now and then. The visits to the Russian palaces and the Hermitage for the past three days were exhausting not to mention the jet jag both ways between Boston and Russia. Our days as a tourists are numbered. But so far so good at 78 and 76 for which we are thankful. We returned home on October 4th 2012.

 

One of the benefits of retirement is that our schedules are flexible. We originally scheduled our French trip for 2011. But because of my surgery last October, the French trip was postponed to this past June. Our Russian trip was scheduled long ago with friends. Thus, we had two vacations in 2012. The tour company must think we are good customers of theirs. As a result we have become accidental celebrities, however minor and fleeting. In the trip catalog of the tour company for 2013, a half page photo of my wife and I during our French trip have been featured as typical satisfied customers of theirs. Several of our friends and strangers who receive the catalogs have mentioned seeing us.

Travel company catalog for 2013

Another problem of being away from home is the myriad tasks ranging from snail- and/or e-mails that have accumulated to all kinds of physical maintenance tasks for the home that must be restarted that await ones return. It takes a couple of days to get back into regular rhythm. Fortunately being retired allows for flexibilities.

 



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