Palaces were never my thing. I didn’t spend my childhood as a sweet princess bathed in pink and glitter and certainly didn’t grow up waiting for the knight in shining armour.
Holding our golden tickets (only in colour) we took the metro to Gostiniy Dvor, close to the Hermitage Museum again. In all my trips I have never seen such an unusual metro ticket as this one and naturally wanted to keep it. Of course then, I didn’t think of just purchasing one and not using it. So, all I have now is this picture.
On the side of the river close to the Hermitage we took a hydrofoil to cross the river and get to Peterhof, Peter’s the Great summer palace. The cost of the return ticket to the little semi-island sets us another 1000R lower. The trip, however, is rewarding as the views of St. Petersburg, while on the boat are magnificent.
What I thought was the most amusing part of the short 20 minute trip, was the souvenir selling by one of the boat’s staff. Well, I am a sales person and I have never seen such a technique before. Looking straight to the floor the otherwise lovely lady, presented the CDs, DVDs, maps and travel guides in one breath, made no contact with the audience – am I wrong or is this not the number one rule of selling: engage with your audience – and of course like everyone else in this town didn’t let a single smile escape. Sitting back at her portable desk, she seemed a bit puzzled as to why no one was approaching it to buy something.
Upon arrival to the Peterhof site, our travel guide mentioned the below and I quote “Approached by hydrofoil the Great Palace rises like a golden curtain”. This picture, however, shows what we saw approaching the site of the Great Palace. Can you spot the curtain?
Probably not; not until you have walked a little bit further and turned to face perhaps one of the most dazzling sights, I’ve ever seen. A celebration of gold statues, huge fountains, a gorgeous bridge and Peterfof standing proudly a little bit higher taking in all that beauty, is certainly something I will never forget.
Back to the entrance, however, and the compulsory ticket. 450R just to enter the gardens. Peterhof has often been compared to Versailles and now that I have been to both, let me tell you that the gardens outside the palace in Versailles are not only better, but more beautiful, greener, intricate imaginative and impressive. But that’s my personal opinion, you can draw your own conclusions.
I should also add that although it’s fairly early in the morning my sight problem is already unbearable. One eye is half closed from pain and some sort of fear to face any light and the other one tries its best at offering the usual blurred vision. How I wished for a new pair of eyes.
From the gardens we moved on to the entrance of the actual palace, where another 550R makes us even poorer. But before entering the palace we need to cover our shoes with plastic bags to prevent us from damaging the floors with any lethal footwear.
The interior of the Peterhof is truly impressive. The first room is covered in gold from top to bottom which made even my blind eye open widely trying to capture the magic. The Chinese corridors give the impression you have been transported to a different country and the dinning room table was laid with the finest china and cutlery waiting for the guests to arrive. Unfortunately, despite the expensive ticket we paid, we were not allowed to take any photographs and we were faced with the familiar mayhem of the Hermitage, only this time was far more annoying, as not only we were stuck between groups of guided tours but were also given the evil look when we said ‘excuse me’ and tried to go through. The most disappointed thing was the end of the tour, which was sudden and at the time when we had started warming up. For the size of the building from the outside, viewing only 10 rooms 3 of which were corridors, left us feeling somehow cheated. We resided to the usual French bar once more to drown our pain in another glass of Hoegaarden and some French music. My eye at that point is completely blind, unreceptive and extremely fearful of light.