Our final day in St. Petersburg began with an excursion to Pushkin and the Catherine Palace. Pushkin is always one of my favorite places in the Petersburg environs because during Tsarist times, it was the royal residence Tsarskoye Selo- the Tsar's Village. Although on this visit we did not go to the Alexander Palace, the residence of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra, it was still a brilliantly beautiful day spent in the majestic palace named for Peter the Great's wife, Catherine.
Crossing the Neva River early in the morning,we could see the golden spire of the St. Peter and Paul Fortress on the left and the Admiralty on the right.
Less than an hour later, the clouds had dispersed as we crossed through the royal gates of the Catherine Palace.
A nice entrance, don'tcha think???
Travelling with Crystal Cruises once again afforded us an hour-early admission to the palace and grounds. It's such a wonderful perk! There really aren't too many people who can boast of a tourist-free photo like this one of .....one Empress standing in front of another Empress' home.
Another absolute delight was a brass band playing for us while we had a short wait (we were early even for the hour early admission....traffic around St. Petersburg has obviously improved over the years!!).
They were absolutely DELIGHTFUL--so much so, I bought their CD.
The highlight was when they played the famous Pas de Quatre from Swan Lake. The choreography is iconic, and so the players imitated the dance moves while playing. I have it on video, which will appear later. Oh, come on--you can't have everything at once........
Emerson thought it was hilarious.
It was a perfect hour to catch the morning sun and shadows on the facade.
Once inside, we donned special booties to protect the beautiful inlaid wood floors.
See what I mean about the early hour perk? We are already through the part of the palace for which the folks on the right are queuing.
There's just as much beauty on the ceilings as at eye level.
I love the fireplaces in each room.
I find it amazing that they still have the dress that Catherine the Great wore...
When her portrait was painted.
I know this is just a taste of the beauty of the Catherine palace. More will follow, but I have to say I was determined to get one picture. I have a poster from my visit to the Soviet Union in 1990. It is a shot of the chapel domes. I wanted an update to hang on the wall next to it...my own time line.
I managed it. My own little before and after.