Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saint Petersburg, Russia, Day 2 - City Tour, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Republic of Cats

Day 2, City Tour, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Republic of Cats, April 6th

9:15am Woke up, had breakfast in the hotel which was pancakes, runny eggs, and coffee.  No buffet breakfast was available, but it was enough.  The plan was to get to the corner of Nevsky prospekt and Dumskaya street by foot, and catch a city tour bus.

Bunch of busy Russians going to work

The bank bridge with Church of the Saviour on Blood in the background

Painting of St Petersburg

Spotted!  Wax figures on the upper floor

12pm till 2pm  Arrived just in time for the city tour.  The cost was 550 rubles if you're a non Russian and 400 rubles for being Russian.  The bus left at 12pm, on time, and off we went... the following are photos taken on and off the bus.

Peter and Paul fortress, also at times home to almost naked Russians who want a tan

Mosque, it's the one with the blue dome

Church of the Saviour on Blood

Museum which houses Peter the Great's (Tsar of Russia) home which was apparently just a simple wooden house.

Aurora Russian Cruiser, in service from 1903 to 1957

Monument to the sailors and the creators of the Russian Navy, erected 1996 on the 300 year anniversary of the Russian Navy

Sphinx imported from Egypt, there's two of them.

2pm ish After the tour it was lunch time.  Lunch was at the Soviet Cafe along Nevsky prospekt.

The Singer house, also known as the house of books.  The top floor hosts the headquarters of VK, the Russian social network.  Completed in 1904.

The Soviet Cafe is located at the far left of this building.

Interior of the cafe, cool eh?

Interior of the cafe.

Chicken salad

Beef pelmeni



At 3pm or so, we walked to St Isaac's Cathedral, which is the world's third largest domed cathedral.  It was commissioned in 1818 and completed in 1858.  It was built by the French architect, Auguste Ricard de Montferrand.  Some of the huge columns supporting the dome were damaged during World War 2, and you could see these "scars" on the columns.  220 pounds of Gold were used just to glid the dome, which according to today's street value is 5.3 million USD.  

The weather was getting a bit gloomy during this time, as you can see from the photos, but it was still bearable, just windy and rainy.  It was really good weather in the morning though.

Entrance which was blocked, instead there's side steps to which you can walk up to the base of the dome

Steps, there's about 100 of these

Winter palace on the left

You can see the Russian crown on the ground just to the left of the middle

Isaakievskaya Ploshchad (St. Isaac's Square) which is located in front of the Cathedral.  It was completed only after the cathedral was built. In its center stands the Nicholas (Tsar Nicholas I) Statue.

Steps to the base of the dome

At 4pm or so we visited the Republic of Cats cafe, which is a cafe where you can have your coffee/tea and play with cats from the Hermitage.  I'm not a big fan of cats, but it's an interesting concept.  You have to fill up a form for your "cat visa" and wash your hands before you go into the "country" which is an area separated by a glass door.

The entrance to the cafe is through the door.  This photo is taken from the corner of the cafe.  To the right is the area with the cats, you go through a glass door.  There's also a cute Russian girl to the left, maybe she's 6 years old or close to that age.

Snacks.  Nom.

I played with a Rubiks cube that was sitting on the shelf but turns out it cannot be solved because someone had replaced the stickers incorrectly.  Grr...

At 6pm ish it was time for dinner.  This was at an italian restaurant.

Chicken Salad

Mussels soup

Tiger prawns with tagliatelli

Then it was time to head home after a long day.  A lot of walking was involved.

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