Rain. Rain in the night. It’s as if there’s been a decree that the hot weather should desist and allow the rain in. The skyline looks very different now and the large downpipes that undoubtedly relieve the roofs of snow during the winter are splashing the pavements below us. As we leave the hotel after breakfast expressions around us are the same. It’s the focused city mentality where people look straight ahead and walk with purpose. No sideways glances, no staring at us. Well, we are walking around with Maps in our hands so they are probably thinking “stupid tourists!”. Yes, for those of you under 23, there is a paper version of what’s on your phone that can come in handy abroad when your phone companies free EU cover doesn’t quite extend past Germany. But it’s ok. We are learning quickly and have decided to walk into the city centre today across the labyrinth of Zebra crossings that for 20 seconds or so stops the incessant traffic. I cannot believe how many people there are in this city.
A special statue
As we head toward the bronze horse statue of Peter the great, the Police presence has increased. Police cars are lined up opposite the senate building, and, like the Whitehouse there is a sniper on the roof of the building aiming his firearm toward the river. We tried to hypothesise as to the reason for such a show of force, but when Michelle told me that she was going to take a picture of him, I grabbed her arm and thrust her and her phone in the opposite direction. The rain continues as we attempt to get the best photo we can of Peter on his horse which reminds me of the same type of statue of Ataturk in the northern half of Cyprus we saw in the summer of 2015. Someone decided somewhere that a man on horseback with his horse rearing up is a symbol of power, or is it? Perhaps this is where the wheelie came from? If you can make your horse stand on its back legs, you are in charge. Or maybe it’s just an artists interpretation of man’s command of one of nature’s truly incredible beasts. The common and garden horse has always been a challenge to us and so we had to conquer it. Show the animal who’s boss. The horse is on as many statues around the world as people are. I wonder in years to come whether the horse statues will be replaced by state leaders driving a Mercedes or Rolls Royce. That would be bizarre but logical if it follows that the horse does just represents the mode of transport of the time. However, it’s less romantic and we do love to place people on pedestals. Without the trusty Trigger we may not look as commanding.
Cafe Bar Bonch
Heading back to Nevsky Prospect, which is the main drag through St P, the police have stopped the traffic and the traffic collectively is not happy. They are all pressing their hands to their horns and it sounds like a fanfare. One of the officers pulls one of the drivers over but when the rest are allowed through the noise starts again – a chorus of disapproval.
A couple of streets later we arrived at one of our pre-planned Trip advisor destinations and it didn’t disappoint.
Cafe Bar Bonch served Vanilla Creme Coffee, Ginger Mousse and Michelle’s regulation green tea with a lemon slice. It was an excellent stop and gave us the sugar rush required to take on the Hermitage.
The Hermitage is THE museum in St Petersburg and it’s HUGE. You need more than a Ginger Mousse to make it around this baby.
Now, neither of us are that bothered by museums but we felt that we should go because it had come highly recommended and things started off well (for me at least) as the first exhibition was of a Hungarian painter from the 19th Century (who had a very interesting life) and created some bleak but realistic oil on canvas paintings. This was a temporary exhibition for the Hermitage and we soon found out why. The rest of the artifacts and paintings were a little older and as Michelle remarked “why are there always naked fat babies with wings in all the artwork from this period and why are the ladies always in a state of undress?”And she was right, in fact there were so many paintings of half naked women standing next to men with swords that we began speeding up through many parts of the museum. We came to the Italian section and now we had statues of half naked women and fully naked men! Perhaps, an improvement? But no, again this soon became tedious and we yearned for something more contemporary. Alas, the staff building with all this art in it was closed for 3 days!! Doh!! Would we recommend a visit to the Hermitage? Mmmm, that’s horses for courses and our tastes are too modern. Still, at least we can say we’ve experienced it.
An hour later and after a fruitless shopping trip to attempt to buy some new shoes for Michelle, we arrived at another of our Trip Advisor recommendations – a place called meatchuck and our day improved dramatically. Aimed at the younger set, the meatchuck served up some amazing meat with beer, bbq beans and rosemary potatoes, but what I liked most of all was that they played tracks from Motörhead in there. Lemmy is alive and well in St Petersburg!!