St. Petersburg Day 1 - October 5, 2006
We stayed at the October Hotel, a big 19th C place just across the circle form the Moscow Station. It has been recently renovated and is quite luxurious and comfortable. Breakfast is in two medium size rooms, not as crowded as in Moscow, and not quite so lavish a display of food. However it was quite satisfactory.
At 9 we left for the Actors House, a former palace, where we had a lecture on the architecture of St. Petersburg. It was one of the worst lectures of any Elderhostel, done without any visual aids or maps and primarily a listing of architects. After that we gladly boarded the bus for a tour of the city. We stopped at the Peter and Paul fortress and visited the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. (Evidently the Russians ignore the relationship of a cathedral to a bishop and use the term for any large church.) This is the oldest church in the city and this incarnation was built in 1733. It is in baroque style and contains the graves of most of the rulers since Peter. The latest addition is the grave of Dagmar, the wife of Alexander III and the mother of Nicholas II. She went into exile after the revolution in 1917 and her body was returned to this church just a week before our visit. The remains of Nicholas II and most of his family are placed in a side chapel, since the remains are mixed with those of some of their servants and are thus not qualified for burial in the cathedral. After touring the church we went to a side corridor where we had a short concert of Russian church music.
We stopped at a square adjacent to the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood. The church is fascinating and we decided to come back another time. We were to have l lunch on our own. Barbara and I went off to view the exterior of the cathedral and its vicinity and then to a nearby bakery for a pastry snack with herring. After that it was back on the bus for more touring. We stopped next at St. Isaac's Cathedral. This was the primary church of the Russian Empire and was built in the first half of the 19th C. The church is stupendous and emphasizes what I have concluded is the motto of the Russians: More is more.
After that it was back to the hotel. Dinner was at 6 at a restaurant and we then had an uneventful evening for a change.