Next Russian day is Jed’s to tell as I stayed in the hostel, a little under the weather. Marat took him to the outer suburbs of St Petersburg to where the palaces are.
Jed – So Nat was feeling sick AGAIN, so it was up to me to experience all I could for her. Marat picked me up, and after looking sad that Nat couldn’t tag along, we headed to an authentic Russian swap-meet, where I was the first tourist ever to appear. It was mostly uninteresting second-hand stuff of no use to a tourist, but I did find some cool medals/pins that were given out during soviet times as awards for accomplishments. There was also a band playing. We ate lunch at a nearby restaurant, ate some typical Belarusian food and I gagged on an aniseed drink..
After the markets we headed to a palace whose name I can’t pronounce. It’s in the picture with the map. The building didn’t look like much from the outside, but the gardens were enormous, and full of sculpted hedges and fountains and ponds and flowers. They really like buffing up those gold statues. There’s one of Samson holding open a lions jaws behind the picture with me in it. Next, hydrofoil back to the city centre, via the cool-looking church that’s in all the pictures of St Petersburg. Nat came out for dinner.
Nat – *sigh* What Jed meant to say was that he visited Peterhof Palace, commissioned by Peter the Great in 1714. This was Peter’s summer palace.
The Samson/Lion statue is important because it signifies the battle between Russia and Sweden for the Baltic Sea. The Great Northern War (1700-1721) ended with Swedens defeat and Russia became a dominant power, on the ocean and in European politics.
When the Germans had control of St Petersburg during WWII, they destroyed a lot of the palace and fountains but they’ve been restored now.