Baltic Cruise St Petersburg The Catherine Palace

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

BALTIC CRUISE - ST. PETERSBURG - The Catherine Palace

Date: 13th September 2009

The Catherine Palace in the village of Pushkin was actually completed by Catherine's daughter Elisabeth.  It is smaller than the Hermitage but is crammed with valuable artefacts.  The one room I wanted to see above all others was the Amber Room.  The whole Catherine Palace was reduced to a shell in World War 11 and the panels of the Amber Room disappeared - no one is sure to this day whether they are at the bottom of the sea in a sunken submarine or whether they are still hidden somewhere. 

The reconstruction of the Palace and the Amber Room is an astonishing feat - a truly remarkable story of a Phoenix rising from the ashes.  When you see the pictures in every room of the bricks and rubble that remained after the war, you cannot credit that the Palace has been restored to its former glory

Russia must have the most extensive, comprehensive  and valuable collections  in the world of Art, Artifacts and Sculpture.

We were allowed freely to take photographs, without flash, throughout the Hermitage and the Winter Palace with the exception of the Amber Room.  This was a great shame because, although I purchased a book of cards and also a complete book about the Amber Room, the photography was dull and disappointing.  I could have taken better pictures with my Sony.  But if you are interested, just Google Amber Room and you will get some idea of what I'm talking about.

We had two days and one night in St. Petersburg and the only disappointment of the whole Baltic cruise was the Ballet Visit.  One should never make assumptions and many of us, when booking for the Ballet, assumed that we would be going to the Mariinsky Theatre - home of the Kirov Ballet company.  In fact we were taken to the Conservatoire and the dancers were graduates of the school.  After all the beauty we'd seen, the Conservatoire was a decidedly dull building which looked as though it had seen better days.  The Corps de Ballet were ragged and it's probably sacrilege to say it, but I am really fed up with Swan Lake.  The Male Dancer was not particularly inspiring but then Swan Lake doesn't really offer much in which the male dancer can shine (show off!).   I'd love to have seen something more adventurous like La Bayadere or my favourite of all time 'Romeo and Juliet' - the Prokofiev version - much better than the Tschaikovsky in my opinion.

Having said the latter, I do think the Prima Ballerina might be one to watch for the future.  The programme was very ordinary  - just a couple of printed pages and she was only credited as LOMACHENKOVA  A.  all very impersonal  with no indication of what was her first name.  But she was like a piece of gossamer and coped superbly with the dual role of Odile and Odette - an absolute joy to watch.

Someone did tell us that we would only see Students performing at the Ballet and we tried to change our tickets for the Folklore Evening but that was fully booked.

I shall put a few photos into the Gallery showing just some of the wonders of the Catherine Palace but for my one allocated picture per blog I'm entering one of our Dinner in the Rhodes Restaurant with the Commodore.  We felt very honoured to be asked and Steve Burgoine turned out to be a wonderful host with a great sense of humour.

BALTIC CRUISE - ST. PETERSBURG - The Catherine Palace

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