There is so much I wanted to see and do in St. Petersburg, partially because the inconvenience and expense of getting a Russian visa is a big drawback for casual travel there. So, I planned a LOT and booked tours and tickets online weeks ahead of time to insure I had a spot in the queues and didn’t have to carry a lot of roubles or constantly fish out a credit card. My first full visiting day was active…the hop on hop off bus, a visit to the Fabergé Museum, and an evening performance of Russian folklore, song, and dance. I learned my hotel provided breakfast (more on that another post) so I economized and only ate one other meal each day…this day it was at a dumpling house where I had the traditional Russian dumplings accompanied by dill and sour cream. My sense of place improved as I walked around the neighborhood and discovered how close I was to iconic sites, public transportation, and nearby grocery and atm.
The Fabergé Museum opened recently and will become a must see site. There are nine Imperial Easter eggs on display…intricate, delicate, and gorgeous. Other rooms filled with porcelain and cloisonné serving pieces, gold and silver jewelry and trinkets, and beaded and gilded religious art, emphasized the wealth and beauty that Russian aristocracy enjoyed. Housed in the neoclassical Shuvalov Palace on the Fontanka River, the refurbished interiors are an incredible backdrop for the talents of Carl Fabergé and others to be admired.
The Feel Yourself Russian folklore show was a totally entertaining touristy event, primarily attended by tour groups. I would have loved to take photos but that was not allowed in hopes of patrons buying cd’s and dvd’s, which they didn’t. There was an intermission of champagne and caviar and vendor tables of cheap matryoshka nesting dolls and fringed scarves. The singers and dancers were dressed in colorful traditional clothing…combine Fiddler on the Roof style with Christian Dior fabrics…and they were all talented, energetic, and fun to watch. I couldn’t help feeling the performers believed they were staging a sham just to please a Westerner’s vision of what Russians are like. A little like thinking all Americans are cowboys or indians. I had a blast!