Hello once again,
It’s April already and my parents have come and gone for their little trip out here to visit me. I miss them already, but it’s hard to be down for long when the sun is shining and the temperature in St Petersburg is so warm!!
5 days ago when my parents first arrived we were able to stand on the edge of the Neva, which was still covered in ice.
Me standing on the edge of the River Neva. It wasn’t safe enough to really walk out further onto the ice, but it was thick enough at the edge – at least 1.5-2 feet thick!
We went to Peterhoff again and the sea was frozen along the Gulf of Finland – people were walking on the sea, guys.
The Gulf of Finland from the Summer Palace in Peterhoff.
But now it’s all melted and the sun is out and the brown muddy grass patches are turning green. The city looks so different already – and all in the space of 5 days!
The River Neva 4 days later, pretty much completely free of ice.
That was the River Neva yesterday afternoon after we’d walked around the Church of the Savior on Blood and the Fields of Mars (a memorial garden for fallen heroes in the wars).
The Church of the Saviour on Spilt Blood – named this way because of the attempted (and ultimately successful) assassination of Alexander II just outside when it was being built, I believe.
Inside, all of the walls are completely covered with mosaic representations of all of the key Biblical figures and of scenes of the main stories from the life of Jesus. It was truly amazing – and my favourite tourist attraction so far.
After that we walked along Nevsky Prospekt and got presents for people. Nevsky is the Main Street in the middle St P. It’s like Oxford Street in London.
Back on Friday we climbed the Colonnade to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral, which was so cool because you could see for miles, even though it wasn’t sunny that day.
St Isaac’s Cathedral.
At the top of the colonnade.
The Bronze Horseman – featuring Peter the Great (1st).
We also walked around the Bronze Horseman (above), featured in a famous poem by Pushkin, who, for those that don’t know, is a very very famous Russian poet.
After that we finished the day spending 5 hours walking around the Hermitage.
The State Hermitage / Winter Palace
The main square – Place Square
The peacock clock – believed to have been made by James Cox. It’s an automation and still in working order, although we weren’t able to go hear it as they only let it play every Wednesday at 7pm.
On Saturday we spent the entire day at Peterhoff Palace – the summer palace by the Gulf of Finland. It was sunny but really bitterly cold that day because of the wind. One of my friends from church came with us. None of the flowers were out yet and the fountains were still switched off so they wouldn’t freeze up over the winter, but lots of renovation work was going on so it should be really beautiful in a few weeks when everything’s in full bloom.
The Samson fountain – removed by the Germans when they took over Peterhoff during the Second World War and probably melted down. This is the newer copy made after the war. The other statues were buried in the grounds and never found by the Germans, so they are still the originals, or so I’ve been told.
Then on Sunday, we went to Hope Church and my parents got to meet all of my friends from church!!
After church we ate at my favourite restaurant, Ukrop (it means Dill in Russian – dill is the herb Russians put on everything they eat!). Then I showed them my uni and Smol’ny Cathedral.
Later that evening, we went and listened to a Russian Composers concert at the Music Hall – it was my parents’ wedding anniversary and I only managed to find the tickets last week. I was worried I wouldn’t find anything as events get booked up very quickly, so it was a real answer to prayer!
This concert was the last of 5 from a series called Musical Journey – the first 4 included music from France, Spain and Italy. This concert featured exclusively Russian music – by Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff.
This morning we walked down the road to Kazanskii Cathedral and heard a sung mass (I think!) and it was so interesting and the singing was so beautiful. These last few days have definitely been an unforgettable experience overall.
Now I’m sat on my bed catching up with year abroad work and uni work and missing my parents (they’re the best!), but feeling positive because the sun is shining and winter is over. I only have 2 months left here and I want to make them count!
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study in such a beautiful city full of such interesting culture. Though this year has had its challenges, it’s definitely widened my view of the world and taught me a lot!