Saturday, February 11, 2012

2011 SFC A Few Hermitage Details

More lovely bits from the Hermitage.....






2011 SFC Hermitage

Day 2 of our stay in St. Petersburg, Russia saw the family split up a bit. The Hancocks, who were experiencing their first visit to Russia, took a scenic tour of St. Petersburg, while the rest of us took a morning-long tour of the Hermitage.

Encyclopedias have been written about the Hermitage and the Winter Palace, so I will not even attempt a cursory description. It was enjoyable simply to look out the window from the Winter Palace, across the Neva River to the Fortress of Peter and Paul, where the tsars are buried.

It's a small little unassuming room, don't you think???

With a nice little throne, complete with footstool.

Passing through the State Apartments, we arrived at the galleries. The cruise lines have negotiated a FABULOUS perk for sightseers- entry to the Hermitage one hour before the public is admitted. HEAVEN!!! This photo would have been impossible 30 minutes later.

One will never be able to see all 3 MILLION items of the Hermitage Collection. Here are my top four favorites.

Michaelangelo's "Crouching Boy." Rough... unfinished...


My beloved Impressionists. Monet's "Poppy Field".

Renoir's "Child with a Whip"

Matisse's "View of Collioure"

Back aboard Serenity, we relaxed by the pool after lunch, reading and napping. After dinner and into jammies, we enjoyed the midnight sun on our verandas, until it got so low in the sky we had to break out the umbrellas.

Yep, it's a tough life, but someone has to do it.

Life is GOOD!

2011 SFC Peterhof Details

I do LOVE details!!!

Along the sea canal.

Garden urn.

The beautiful golden domes.

I simply couldn't resist..............

These turtles are for my friend, Dr. Kreslyn Odom Brooks. She has a "thing" about turtles.

2011 SFC Peterhof Gardens

There's just no way to do justice to the beautiful grounds of Peterhof. Here is just a taste.

The Grand Cascade, with Samson Wrestling a Lion in the center.

Triton and the Sea Monster.

The Grand Cascade.

The Chessboard Cascade.

More brides...

2011 SFC Peterhof

We recovered quickly from the food and wine extravaganza that was the Vintage Room dinner, and it is a good thing. While sleeping off the dinner, we crossed into Russian waters and found ourselves in St. Petersburg, Russia in the early morning.

Now, those of you who have known me most of my life will know that Russia has always held a mystical magical place in my heart. I have no idea why, but from an early age I have been fascinated with her and her people. I majored in Russian (along with Technical Theatre) in college. I was lucky enough to visit Leningrad and the area around Moscow in the last days of the Soviet Union, and to return again in 2006 on our first Crystal cruise. I've enjoyed every second I have spent in Russia.

Our first excursion of this visit was a trip to Peterhof on the Baltic Sea. Peter the Great knew how to build a house, that's for sure.

We boarded a hydrofoil not far from Crystal Serenity.

It was a pleasant, enjoyable ride.

Looking back, we could see that Serenity was taking on bunker.

Arriving with just a little more speed than Peter did, we debarked onto the pier next to a lovely beach area...

and had our first view of Peterhof, the sea canal leading our eye up toward its legendary fountains.

The family enjoyed the short stroll and learned a little of Peterhof's history from out tour guide.

Alix enjoying the cooling breezes of the fountains--YES, it was a hot day!!!

How does one find words for such splendid surroundings?

Peterhof's legendary fountains are all gravity fed from large ponds at the top of the estate.

Ok, I was sneaky (bad tourist, no cookie!). I forgot to turn my camera off and "just accidentally" hit the shutter button once or twice... JUST ONCE OR TWICE!

Can't resist costumed characters...

Don't you know Tsar Peter and Empress Catherine were HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many couples use the beautiful backdrop of Peterhof to marry. This bride was NOT happy that every tourist was snapping her photo.

More strolling.

Children are children the world 'round.

Such a lovely summer day.

Down by sea, by the Mon Plasir pavillion, stands the statue of Neptune. It is supposedly very good luck to rub his feet.

Never one to take chances with luck.

Yes, there were many sightseers, but it never felt crowded. Just a breathtakingly beautiful visit.