John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Friday 14 September 2012

[2012]
[Thursday 13 September 2012]
St. Petersburg
“We were woken up at 7am by the telly coming on!” Janet wrote. “Wish I’d known, then I could have had the control on my bedside cabinet. It was still better than an alarm clock or a phone ringing.… Breakfast. [John was] much better today.… We had a good breakfast (mind you, the food at this hotel is weird!). [John] had locked himself out of the safe so we called at Reception to get that sorted before we left.”
Day excursion to Pushkin, also known as Tsarskoye Selo
We left a little after 9am. We stopped before leaving the city at the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square. Very moving.
Click on the photos, below, for a larger view.

09:20:26 Moscow Triumphal Gate, built mainly of cast iron

09:21:16 Moscow Triumphal Gate, built mainly of cast iron

09:24:44 What do the dark glasses on this traffic light mean?

09:26:20 Impressive Stalinesque apartment block

09:30:26 Moscow Square and House of Soviets

09:30:38 Statue of Lenin, Moscow Square

09:37:00 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:38:54 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:39:14 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:39:44 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:40:44 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:44:24 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:44:58 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:45:14 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:45:38 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:46:10 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:47:18 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:47:32 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:47:40 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:48:36 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

09:49:18 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square

10:05:14 “Pushkin 7km”

10:13:38 Egyptian-style entrance to the Pushkin museum complex

10:18:04 Brass band near where we got off the coach

10:21:46 Approaching Catherine Palace

10:22:20 Approaching Catherine Palace

10:23:18 A second — in fact, more jaunty — brass band. One of them danced a little jig. The Australians in our party recognised their national anthem when the band struck it up.

10:26:00 Catherine Palace, north side — carriage courtyard

10:28:24 Catherine Palace, north side — carriage courtyard
After we entered part of the building with a “modern” interior, we were supposed to deposit coats and bags in the cloakroom (this seems to be a regular feature of Russian museums), but Janet and I retained ours and weren’t hassled. Then we entered a room where we donned elasticated shoe-covers (similar to the ones we had in the Muhammad Ali mosque in Cairo, Thursday 9 February 2012). After that, we passed through I-can’t-remember-what, and found ourselves in a huge entrance hall with staircases to the upper floor. From the outside, the palace appears to have three storeys, but upstairs each window has a smaller one above it. We climbed the stairs, then turned off into an ante-room displaying survivals from the Germans’ destruction of the place. They torched the palace during their retreat from the Siege of Leningrad in 1944, and the vast majority of what we saw inside the building was a later reconstruction. From the ante-room we proceeded into the vast ballroom, and from there, by way of the doors on the left, into a succession of opulently appointed rooms. Then we returned to the staircase by way of the right-hand doors (now left, to us, because we were facing in the opposite direction).

10:45:54 Catherine Palace, staircases and landing

10:47:58 Catherine Palace, original corner-cornice surviving the destruction of the palace by German forces retreating after the siege of Leningrad in 1944

10:50:32 Catherine Palace: ballroom

10:50:46 Catherine Palace: ballroom

10:54:32 Catherine Palace: painted ballroom ceiling with trompe l’oeil architectural effects

10:55:12 Catherine Palace: ballroom

10:56:08 Catherine Palace: the next room. Blue Delft-tiled fireplaces were a feature of many of the rooms.

10:56:24 Catherine Palace: the next room — ceiling

10:57:52 Catherine Palace: the next room — detail of one of the fireplaces

10:59:08 Catherine Palace: another room

11:00:16 

11:01:44 Catherine Palace: the end room

11:04:46 Catherine Palace: view back from the room shown at 11:00:16

11:05:16 Catherine Palace: view back through the succession of doors

11:07:38 Catherine Palace: I think this is the last room before the hall and staircases, not occupying the full width of the building; cf. 10:47:58.

11:10:34 Back at the hall and staircases
Once back at the stairs, we continued in the same direction and passed through the rooms in the other half of the palace.

11:11:58

11:13:20

11:14:04 Succession of further rooms visible through the door

11:15:24

11:16:48

11:17:16

11:18:22
The next room was the photos-forbidden “Amber Room” with 16-foot panels of amber-pieces “jigsawed” together, weighing in all perhaps 6 tons. Amazing! The Nazi Germans looted the original Amber Room in 1941 and brought the panels to Königsberg, but knowledge of their whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war. Reconstruction, based largely on black and white photographs of the original Amber Room, was completed in 2003.

The Amber Room — photo from Wikipedia

The Amber Room — postcard, bought at Catherine Palace

11:25:48 View back through the doors into the Amber Room. Part of one amber panel can just be seen to the right of the left-hand door.

11:26:48 

11:27:10 Still proceeding through the left-hand doors; the way back was through the door on the right.

11:28:48

11:31:14

11:31:28

11:32:08

11:33:10

11:34:06

11:35:08 The end room

11:35:48 Back through the room of 11:33:10 and 11:34:06

11:36:16

11:36:34

11:38:52 I was surprised, on closer inspection of this photo, to find that…

11:38:52 …although the writing at the top was in Russian (“to Count Alexey Andreyevich Arakcheev”)…

11:38:52 …the other two sheets were written in French.

11:38:52 …the other two sheets were written in French.

11:39:14

11:39:56 Back through the room of 11:26:48 and 11:27:10

11:40:14

11:41:06

11:44:12

11:44:22

11:44:58

11:44:58 The same photo, cropped and straightened up

11:45:52

11:47:02

11:47:02 The same photo, cropped and straightened up
Then we went out into Catherine Park.

12:09:50

12:19:02 Cameron Gallery (upper right)

12:19:56


12:22:00 Cameron Gallery

12:28:22, according to one camera: one of several weddings, this one at the Cameron Gallery

12:28:24, according to the other camera: Cameron Gallery
Вера assembled us all and we went to the Grotto Pavilion, “for a concert,” she told us — a moving song by a male sextet, singing a cappella: from whisper-quiet, to so loud one’s ears rang. There were two CDs for sale; we bought the one with the song we’d just heard on it.

12:34:42

12:35:54

12:35:54 Cropped and enlarged view

12:35:54 Different cropped and enlarged view

12:38:16

12:38:16 Cropped and enlarged view

Russian Folk Songs CD cover

12:43:16 The “Great Pond”. The building on the right is the Turkish Bath.

12:45:22 View from the same spot of the Grotto Pavilion and (left) the Cameron Gallery

12:49:28

12:52:04, according to one camera

12:52:04, according to one camera: cropped and enlarged view

12:52:20, according to the other camera: yet another wedding

12:52:32

12:53:06, according to one camera

12:53:06, according to the other camera

12:53:56 The Upper Bath, Catherine Park

12:56:20 Catherine Palace, south side

12:56:20 Detail of the above photo: Our party gathering. Вера stands, right, holding aloft her flower, the “assemble” signal.

12:56:20 Catherine Palace, south side, detail

12:56:20 Catherine Palace, south side, detail

12:56:20 Catherine Palace, south side, detail

13:01:14
Some of the group passed their cameras to Вера to have a whole-group photo taken. I didn’t, though. Then I sat down on a bench next to a Japanese couple, which is where I took the above photo from. The Japanese couple wanted me photographed with them. Other Japanese people even seized couples getting married to be photographed with THEM! Strange!

13:05:34 View of the end of Catherine’s Palace, obscured by trees at 12:56:20

13:06:32 “Catherine Park”
After this, we made our way back to the coach, passing the statue of Pushkin.

13:12:34 Statue of Pushkin

13:12:50 Statue of Pushkin

13:41:32 Fountains playing outside the House of Soviets in Moscow Square

13:41:48 Fountains playing outside the House of Soviets in Moscow Square

13:45:02 National Library of Russia
Back at the hotel, we put on something warmer, then vacated the room for the housekeeper. We used the ATM in the lobby, because we didn’t have enough Roubles left even for a Metro trip. Then we made our way to the Metro. We figured that Admiralteyskaya was the nearest station to St. Isaac’s Cathedral where we were headed, which involved a change of Metro lines. The first stage was on the “M2” line from Tekhnologichesky Institut to the next station Sennaya Ploshchad, then along a corridor to Sadovaya station, then on the “M5” line to Admiralteyskaya — the deepest Metro station in Saint Petersburg, with two escalators to the surface.

15:12:30 Admiralteyskaya station

15:12:30 Admiralteyskaya station — detail

15:12:30 Admiralteyskaya station — detail

15:12:30 Admiralteyskaya station — detail
There was a nearby Subway restaurant, which was tempting, but Janet spotted the McDonald’s, which is where we went. Actually, I preferred the Subway “club sandwich” the other day to the Big Mac I had there. It was busy in there, and all the tables became occupied. So afterwards, while Janet was in the loo, I gave up our table to a couple of Russian young women who had just come in. They thanked me in English, which surprised me so I only just remembered the standard “You’re welcome!” reply. Everyone we encountered in Russia in this kind of way, or in the street, was friendly and polite.

15:21:44 Биг Мак (Big Mac) at McDonald’s (Макдоналдс)
It was not hard to spot the dome of St. Isaac’s, perhaps ¼-mile away, from the street corner we headed for.

15:58:54 Approaching St. Isaac’s

15:59:08 Last time I saw wooden scaffolding was on Friday 10 February 2012 on the Step-Pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt.
There were plenty of places to sit when I needed one, I was pleased to see.

16:09:28

16:11:44

16:12:28

16:13:22

16:14:10

16:14:34

16:14:56

16:15:40

16:16:16

16:16:46

16:16:46 — detail

16:16:46 — detail

16:17:12

16:18:10

16:18:10 — cropped and straightened up

16:18:32

16:18:32 — cropped and enlarged

16:19:06

16:19:56

16:19:56 — cropped and straightened up

16:20:24 Rare sight in a Russian Orthodox Church: a pulpit

16:22:12

16:22:44 Iconostasis, left

16:22:54 Iconostasis, right

16:23:12 Above the iconostasis

16:23:58 Seen for the first time: holy doors open

16:24:50 Icon to the right of the holy doors

16:25:28 Icon to the left of the holy doors

16:25:58 View through the holy doors

16:26:40 View back from that position

16:26:54 View back and above from that position

16:28:26 Chapel to the left of the iconostasis

16:35:08

16:37:46
“We saw two of our party in there,” Janet recalled: “two of the Australians. We were BOTH gob-smacked.…

16:51:08
“After our visit there… we walked back to the Metro. [John’s] feet [were] beginning to hurt but he managed. It was the rush-hour and there were masses of people. I think I’ve overcome my morbid fear of escalators anyway! Both trains were crowded.… It’s quick [with] regular trains. We arrived back at our hotel [ca.]6pm. [John] rested on the bed for a bit, then he downloaded today’s photos. I updated this, etc. At 7.15pm we went for dinner… [John] had a glass of wine with the meal. He had difficulty eating it all.”
 I was feeling “off”, but what’s more, there was very little in the buffet that I found palatable. There was almost no choice of vegetables.
 “We returned to our room at 8pm. [John] lay on the bed with his feet elevated again and had a sleep.… Around 9.30pm [John] threw up! Then he took his pill [my regular twice-daily dose of Minocycline] and got into bed. I got into bed also. Lights out.”
 Janet commented that that was the first time she’d seen me be sick — but she commented the same the last time! (That was indeed the first time, though.)
[Saturday 15 September 2012]


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