9/16/2009 – Gold Leaf, Pickled Garlic, and Ballerinas

Catherine the Great decided the summer palace needed a little sprucing in the 1860’s up so she brought in an italian architect and had him add a few dozen rooms.  Just about every room has white walls and gold-leaf covered decorative carvings.  It’s ok for a room or two, but after a dozen, the look starts to wear.  So, she threw in the Amber Room with walls of amber mosaics.  This room was supposedly declared the “eighth wonder of the world”, which makes curious what the “ninth wonder” is that lost out to this tacky thing.  Actually, everything you see in the palace is a re-creation, since the Nazis pretty much burned the place down when they were pulling out.

Lunch at a “traditional” Russian log cabin restaurant geared up for the tourist busses consisted of pickles, picked tomatoes, pickled beans, pickled garlic, a bowl of mushroom stuff (think Campbells cream of mushroom soup extra thick with lots of mushrooms), borscht, and stuffed cabbage.  And, of course, vodka and home-made wine (actually not too bad after the shots of vodka).

In the evening we attended a nice performance of Giselle at the Hermitage Theater, Catherine the Great’s private theater, with music performed by the St. Petersburg Symphony.


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