23 June 2019
Thursday 20 June
Everyone has told us lots about the Hermitage Museum, how big it is, how many exhibits it has, how beautiful building it is. All true. It opens at 10.30 in the morning, and Tatiana was running slightly late because of traffic jams which seem to be the norm here. Anyway we got over there to one of the entrances about 10.15, and that was when we saw how well she could play the system. Yes, there was a queue already, she marched past that with us in tow, in out of the direct hot sunlight, and tucked away on the bottom step behind the door, to wait until the half hour, out of sight of the staff inside. Tatiana then spent the next fifteen minutes discouraging anyone else to do the same. At the crack of half past we were in, ahead of everybody else! Awesome!
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon boggling at the building, its decoration, its size, and the range of sections in there. We looked at sculptures, paintings, some great Rembrandts, Poussins, a Michelangelo sculpture of a crouching man, ceramics, the porcelain Catherine the Great ordered with pictures of Edinburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle on them, furniture, throne rooms, as this was the royal palace that the Czar's family were taken from and sent into exile in Ekterinburg. It was mindblowing, and incresingly full of other people, in groups with guides, audioguides round their necks. Tatiana was struggling somewhat with a new pair of shoes, she told Ju. Not a good idea to break them in today, I thought. Ah well. She left us with our tickets for the rest of the day to continue to look at the museum, but first we sought out the cafe, and had a sandwich and a bottle of water for lunch. I should say we had only been drinking bottled water all our time in Russia, even for brushing our teeth.
We had a quick confab and decided we had had enough for the day. We were in danger of overload, it was a hot day even in the museum, we could look out the windows and see enormous queues even at lunchtime, of people waiting to get into the building. Our tolerance of crowds is not very good at the best of times, so off we went back to our air conditioned hotel room to chill out for a while. Later we went for a walk and found a nice pizza restaurant.
Friday 21 June
The longest day, and our last day in Russia. We went for a walk along the Neva after breakfast, but on the way noticed a buildup of soldiers in the palace square, so when we came back from our walk we went to see what they were doing. After quite a,long wait, during which the sound stage opposite the Hermitage was doing sound checks, very loudly.
Finally there was a bit of military music and a march past with flags. We watched then went back to finish packing, making sure we had got all our chargers and wires packed. We checked out but left our luggage in store in the hotel and headed to Nevsky Prospect in search of lunch, a sandwich in Subway.
Our taxi arrived at 2pm and took us to the airport. Our amazing Russian adventure was over.
What a country, what a trip! Bagshaw loved every minute of it!