Depth of Russian Culture

Having seen so many European masterpieces at the Hermitage, I wondered how the Russian Museum, an art museum dedicated to Russian artists, would compare.   Set in the gorgeous Mikhailovskiy Palace, it was evident that the Russian culture runs not only wide, but very deep.  From minutely-detailed small paintings to grand murals and sculptures, the talent was impressive and easily matched the European artists.  The collection included many original paintings I had run across in print before arriving, including the very telling painting of Peter the Great confronting his treasonous son.  It was great to learn more Russian history through art and see pictures depicting what I had read and could only imagine, such as the dramatic portrait of an Ottoman prince, and a painting of Peter the Great’s Tsar father with his boyars dressed in the old Russian-style caftans and beards, which P the G worked so hard to modernize.   We spent many hours here and left quite dumb-founded and in need of a good meal.

Heading back to Nevsky Prospekt we happened on the Romanov restaurant which was really a covered, heated patio in a square.  There we ordered more traditional Russian food and were not disappointed with Borsch, cabbage rolls and dumplings.  Delish!

Now we had only to wait until midnite, when we were scheduled to take a boat tour along the Fontanka, Moike and Neva Rivers.   After a rest we re-fortified with coffee and our first Pavlova, the famous Russian dessert.  We had heard repeatedly how necessary a midnite boat ride was, but encountered many roadblocks to our attempts to book the trip.  No, midnite ride is in Russian for Russians.  We don’t care, we don’t need commentary, here is our money, please give us tickets.  Ok, shrug shrug.  When we got there, there were many tourists just like us.   We were joined by only a small group of 3 or 4 Russians who lived up to their reputation and were well on their way toward a marvellous party on the boat.  Naturally they took up residence next to me and insisted we join them in a drink, which of course we did not.   “English – Canada I do not know, near Liverpool?”   Happily, they went indoors but for one who konked out cold across several chairs not to be heard from again until docking.

The evening was clear and balmy and the half-moon shone over all the now-becoming-familiar landmarks.   It was a beautiful way to see the city and to experience the famed raising of the bridges, which occurs after 1 am each night, on some of the 300+ bridges in the city, allowing larger ships to pass.  It was a very special evening and one of the highlights of our visit.


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