Sunday, August 03, 2008

St. Petersburg

We landed in St. Petersburg on Thursday and for three days we toured castles and museums and ate in terrific restaurants. We began with Catherine's Palace, built for Elizabeth, and named for her mother, Catherine, Peter the Great's second wife. The castle is famous for its ballrooms. Later, we toured churches and more castles, in particular, Peterhof, the "Russian Versailles," famous for its fountains and gardens and views of Gulf of Finland. We visited a war memorial that commemorates the 900-day siege of Leningrad by the Nazis during which 1 million residents of the city died, most of starvation. We saw Swan Lake one evening. We spent most of a day at the incredible Hermitage museum with its spectacular collection of Impressionist paintings. We finished with a private party with Russian band in a palace once owned by Russia's wealthiest family.

St. Petersburg, population 5 million, with its canal system and many rivers has been compared to Venice and is one of the world's most beautiful cities.

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