Sunday, January 16, 2011

DAY #2........

This day was absolutely packed! No other way to describe it than to tell it like it is!
We started our day off with meeting Julia (our private tour guide for 3 hours) and Shaha (the driver). They picked us up at our Petro Palace Hotel at 10:00 a.m.
They were wonderful and this was absolutely the BEST way to get an overview of St. Petersburg. This city is so BIG and so BEAUTIFUL!
There is NO WAY to show you any where near the almost 300 pictures we took today. You will just have to plan your own trip here to see what we are talking about. The above picture is just a small sampling of what we are talking about. This is the St. Isaac's Cathedral.
And the above is probably the most recognized spot in all of St. Petersburg......CHURCH ON THE SPILLED BLOOD. Tens of thousands of mosaics on the inside. Gorgeous...just absolutely gorgeous!
We bought a wooden nativity set from Boris.....I was frozen solid and went to warm up in the hired car and Barbara was waiting for her change from a purchase she made. That is why she is in the picture and not me!
Then it was off to the HERMITAGE MUSEUM for the afternoon. Again, there is absolutely no way we could begin to show you what is inside of the world renown art museum. Fantastic art of every form. Unlike previous experience others have had, we had a wonderful time and were able to go at a nice pace! However, with thousands and thousands of art pieces, it would take 11 years to see them all of the art work if you only looked at each item for about 2 seconds each!
Probably the most 'amazing' experience we had today was when we were looking for the counter to get our actual tickets (we had a voucher but had to trade it for the paper tickets in order to enter). We saw a guy standing by one of the doors. We thought we would 'attempt' to ask him where we went. With our not speaking Russian we were hopeful we would be able to communicate. To make a long story very short, this 'fellow' we asked started speaking English. Wayne asked him where he was from because he sounded like he had a 'Utah accent'! Well, he had that accent because he was a missionary from Utah serving a mission here in Russia! He and his companion were at the Hermitage doing 2 hours of service (which they do each week!). How cool is that. They are not allowed to wear their missionary tags while doing service here. We explained to them we were Temple missionaries from Helsinki and we were not suppose to wear our tags when we are not in Sunday attire. But we had our tags in our pockets. Hence, the picture!! So cool!!
The best decision we made with this 'tour' of the Hermitage (and it was Wayne's idea) was to hire a private 1-hour tour guide. Got a great overview and saw the more important items on display.
There were 2 bride and grooms roaming the halls having wedding pictures taken inside. Apparently, this is a very popular thing for the Russian Bride and Grooms to do. Makes for great pictures!!
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon here!!
We even wrote post cards to the kids and mailed them off right there in the museum. Look for them kids!!
Then it was time to meet Larissa and Viktor Vesalov for a night at the OPERA....actually it was more like a musical / singing evening.
It was inside a magnificent PALACE.....everything is in a palace here it seems!
And a FOTO OPP after the performances were over.
The VESELOV's wanted us to come over to their apartment for a bit to eat afterward. We could not turn them by foot we headed over! They are so cute and so wonderful. They help so many people and were so wonderful to us. They refused to let us pay for the tickets. They wanted to do something for the missionaries!
I got to 'help' prepare the salad a little bit. What a great day and a perfect ending to a great day. We were totally exhausted by the time we got back to the Hotel at about 1:30 a.m. Too late for us 'old folks'!!

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