A Swiss in Petersburg: To Peterhof or Петергов

The meteor flies under dark clouds

Just in front of the Ермитаж or Ermitage the meteor boats leave to take tourists to Peterhof within half an hour. I find a seat next to a young mum with her about 7 year old son who says that he is hungry. The mum unpacks apples and bananas for him. Very reasonable. He takes his mobile phone and makes a picture of a helicopter. “What do you need this helicopter for”, she asks in a friendly tone, “it will look like a small bee on your photo”, and she supports him to use the zoom to make it look like a small bird at least. “Oh, look at that black cloud, and we have no umbrella,” she sighs. Yes THAT cloud north of Piteri is very black. And as we arrive at Peterhof, it rains heavily and there is a strong wind. The tourists fight their way from the peer to the park and join the visitors there that have already bought a plastic coat or an umbrella at one of the kiosks.

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A longlong queue or очередь to the castle (museum)

As it is pouring with rain, I immediately head to the castle to be inside. I wanted to see the castle’s luxury this time; eleven years ago, I happened to visit Peterhof with Ernst on the санитарный день or sanitary day. This is a Russian institution. Once per month, each museum is closed for cleaning (as I understand this with my Swiss background) and this one day is different for each museum. Well, the museum sells tickets until two pm, now it is shortly before one pm, and the length of the queue is at least one hour. Be the castle open or not, visiting it needs more planning or the courage of Elena who just goes in and says that she has missed her group or has to buy a ticket for the group she is to guide through the museum. Here is about half the queue…

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Strolling through the wonderful нижний парк or lower park

No, the museum is nothing for me. There are also caves to visit, but they sell 800 tickets per day and the queue is about that long… Hence I decide to just stroll through this wonderful park that Peter the Great has conceived and, in some parts, even engineered himself.  The great fountain with the golden statues, Adam and Eva, the fish pond, the fun fountains jumping up unexpectedly for the joy of children and the sore of their parents, the little Montbijou Palace at the sea shore which somehow reminds me of Sanssouci in Potsdam… and so forth – this is one of the most beautiful parks I know, and I just miss Ernst, as he has enjoyed this gem so much with me eleven years ago. In the small restaurant Бель Вю or Belle Vue I eat an уху or fishsoup. and around five pm I head for the peer to take he meteor back to Piteri.

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Back to Piter on the windy sea and Newa

At the peer I join a long queue of tourists who are freezing under the cold wind. The meteor only approaches the peer quickly, fighting against the waves, to load the passengers all at once and then head off back to the Ermitage on a bumpy journey. I walk back along busy Newsky Prospekt (where I get some Nespresso capsulas for Elena’s coffee machine) and then along Griboedova to the house that is my home for four weeks. Elena and I chat until midnight – the white nights make us forget the time.

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