Day #13: St Petersburg

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April 14th 2013
Published: April 16th 2013
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Being in Russia off-season has advantages and disadvantages. The major plus is that everywhere is quiet - that means no queues, and a bed in any hostel we choose, and Russians not sick to death of tourists, but also that we have the chance to get a sense of the natural vibe of the places we visit, rather than being lost in throngs of frenetic tourists. Overall, I'm glad to be here out of season.

The downside, though, is that some places are closed for renovation, or just because it is off-season, or they don't look their best at this time of year. And so it was with Peterhof, which was open, but not ready: no fountains at this time of year, the outside of the palace entirely covered with scaffolding and sections of the interior covered in dustsheets. It was the first place I've been in Russia where I wished I had seen it in high season rather than April.

However, the day was still pleasant. Peterhof is on the coast, and it was interesting to see the sea still frozen - and some people, we assume workers, way out on the ice. Maybe fishing? The grounds were lovely even though the trees were still bare, and we saw enough of the palace and church to have a sense of the same regal excess we saw at the Hermitage (the series of silk wallpapers stood out). The fountains were still quite something even without the water - glimpsing the gold through the bare trees and snow-covered ground, it looks so incongruous. Some of those statues really would not look out of place in G-A-Y.


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