Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tsardom of Russia

Our trip to Saint Petersburg wouldn't have been complete without visiting one of the symbols of the Tsardom of Russia - Tsarskoye Selo (now belonging to the town of Pushkin) and Catherine's Palace.

There are probably many different ways of getting to Tsarskoye Selo. We chose a train to Pushkin and then a marshrutka (a private bus) from the train station right to the palace. It took us a lot of courage and a lot of energy. But, hey, adventures must be thrilling! As I've already mentioned - us and Russian language - not friends. Niet. Definitely no. Russians that we met in Petersburg and English language - not friends. Niet. Definitely no. However, half speaking English - half Polish, I managed to buy train tickets for us. Then we somehow found the right train. Our third attempt to communicate with anyone was already on the train. We kinda didn't know when to get off and our skills of reading Russian letters were good but took loads of time. So we were scared we weren't gonna be quick enough to read the name of the station and run to the door ;) Yet another time we had no luck with speaking English. However, a very nice old lady looked at our ticket, read the destination and showed us when to get off. Good, old gestures and no language skills necessary ;) Yup, we made it to Pushkin, we found ourselves a marshrutka (lots of them standing outside the train station and waiting for tourists) and we were glad we were gonna make it to the palace. We thought that the way back would be much easier, as by then we would have already traveled one way ;) So simple, and so true.

The queue to the palace was very long, very very loooooong. And it wasn't the tourist season yet. We went there at the beginning of April, so it was still cold (but sunny, which made our trip really nice). We got ourselves the tickets, found our guide (who was speaking Russian, as far as I can remember) and we were finally able to enter the magic interiors of Catherine's Palace.

It was so spectacular, so gigantic, so diversified in style, so colourful, so amazing! I was so happy to be there. The Amber Hall - a definite must-see, even though it's still a replica of the real hall (still missing since WWII). I couldn't believe that the whole palace was smashed to the ground during WWII and totally rebuilt after it! But I'm really glad they did that. They managed to save most of the actual relics, though. So the stuff that we see there are not replicas - at least they say that ;)

There is also a huge park outside the palace. It was beautiful even without leaves on the trees. The paths, the bridges, the tiny buildings, the lake... A great place for a peaceful walk. Or for a date. I could see myself walking the paths in a ball gown...It was all so perfect.

The trip took us all day. We were really exhausted after it. We had no energy left so we had to skip going to Peterhof. We left it for our next visit to Saint Petersburg - together with Hermitage and Peter and Paul's Fortress.

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