Russia has always fascinated me. The history, the vastness of it’s land, the people, everything about it interests me. I also love the cold, and the ballet, and beautiful architecture, so Saint Petersburg in December sounded like the perfect trip for us!
The trip is very easy to accomplish in just a long weekend. Unfortunately because of the time change, you need almost a full day to get there from London. Although the flight is only a little over three hours, the three hour time difference means a six hour plus travel journey. But the city is pretty small and condensed, so having just two days to explore works well.
We spent our first morning visiting Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world! Also – the dome structure at the top was actually the inspiration for the United States Capital Dome! The interior of the church is jaw-dropping. The amount of gold, marble, granite and bronze decorated throughout is magical. I loved the bright green from the emerald columns and the glittery bright mosaic’s that scattered the ceiling and walls. The cathedral also had an external staircase up to the top which gave way to some of the most beautiful views over the city.
Standing atop the cathedral, I spotted a massive turquoise building, adorned with gold and white trim and immediately declared we had to go there. Having done very little research on the city myself, Dan quickly informed me that it was the Winter Palace, and that was actually already our next stop on the trip! (He’s so good at planning and research!)
A quick walk from the cathedral and we arrived in the Palace Square. And what MASSIVE square this is…but for some reason, I just expect everything to be huge in Russia. I mean they have so much room for everything! The square itself was home to many significant historical events, including the Bloody Sunday massacre, assassinations and parts of the October Revolution. But now, it’s just a beautiful square in front of the Palace, and they even had magical horse drawn carriages dotted throughout for rides throughout the city!
We spent about two hours wandering the Winter Palace. The Palace has a long and complicated history. Changing hands a lot and suffering wars, fires and battles. The last time royals lived in the palace was early 1940’s, and since it’s been a tourist museum. As we went in the non-tourist season, the place was relatively empty so we were able to make our way through very quickly. What impressed me the most were the ceilings and the floors! Each room had it’s own character, with it’s own ornate ceiling design and floor design. It was incredible to imagine the amount of work that went into creating everything. I think I took at least 100 photos of the ceiling, and I think my neck even hurt a bit from looking up the whole time! I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Winter Palace, it was one of my favourite palaces/museums we’ve visited since moving abroad.
After the Palace, we spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering the streets and canals of the city. Deemed “Venice of the North”, the city is dotted with many rivers and canals, which adds to the picturesque-ness of the city.
That evening, we went to a Georgian restaurant for dinner, followed by the Russian Ballet! I love the ballet, and the Russian ballet was one of the big draws to going on this trip. We saw their performance of Cinderella. It was incredible! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience – amazing!
On our last day in the city, we started off with breakfast at an adorable café where I discovered the Russian coffee drink – the Raf. It’s basically a latte, but it’s made completely different with everything being put in the frothing mug then frothed together (versus just the milk being frothed and poured on top of the espresso). They also dotted the top with about 2 whole cups of marshmallows, so I was in espresso heaven!
After breakfast, we went over to The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This is one of the most striking buildings I’ve ever seen. The ornate, colourful domes stand out and provide a stunning backdrop along the canals. (Sadly, the very top of the cathedral was under construction so there was some scaffolding on the top – but nevertheless, it was still STUNNING!
We spent the remainder of our time waking around and shopping! We loved our experience in Russia. Saint Petersburg had a wonderful Eastern European feel with so many colourful buildings and all of the water makes is so charming.
As a side note, we also hosted our 6th annual Glaser Holiday party! We did a crazy wig theme this year which turned out pretty amazing! Everyone smashed the theme and looked great!