front of the structure are made of solid granite and weigh up to 114 tons.
We also visited the Piskarevskoye Cemetary where the people who died in the city during World War II. Early in the war in 1941, Hitler had cut off this city from any outside contact. No supplies could get in and no one could get out. The only food the people had was the food they could raise themselves and being an industrial city of the 1,000,000 who died in the city during the war, it is said, 632,000 died of starvation. Hitler was so sure he would take this city that he even set the date for it's fall and had invitations printed for a celebration party. When he realized he could not occupy the city, he gave the order to have it leveled. Fortunately he did not entirely succeed but one third of the city was distroyed, encluding Peter's Palace. However, before burning it to the ground the Nazis removed everything they could carry away and stripped the ornamental gold from the staircases and wails. Actually, this was a good thing, as, over the past 50 years, some of the treasures have trickled back to their original home.
Peter the Great had traveled extensivly and seen all the palaces of Europe and was determined to have a palace as great as any and better than most. So the highlight of our trip for me was his palace. I had seen pictures and documentaries of the many beautiful and unusual fountains and had looked forward to exploring them and taking many pictures. One of the disadvantages of being with a tour group is that one doesn't always have as much time to explore as one would like. Upon arriving we discovered the main fountains on either side of the long reflecting pool betwwen the palace and the river had been turned off for repairs. In addition we were to spend most of our time in the palace itself and not touring the gardens. Also, there were so many tourists there one did not want to be separated from the group or one might not find the bus that would be our return mode of travel to the city. So I was disappointed but only for a moment.
Before the war, many pictures had been taken of each room and these pictures had survived the war. When they restored the palace after the war they not only had the pictures to guide them, but, several of the curators were found to still be alive. When it came to restoring the wall paper on the walls, and the fabrics of the drapes, and the ceramic tiles on the ceramic oven, some of these places in other parts of Europe that had once produced these were able to reproduce them again. And, so, they boast of a palace that is very nearly identical to what it once was and it is awesome.
Upon entering the palace you find yourself in an enormous parlor with a grand staircase. The walls and ceiling are white and everything else seems to be gold. Our first reaction was "is that real gold?" We were told that it was. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Awesome, georgous, fantastic, incredible -- I cannot find the words but it will live in my memory forever. And the tour itself was room after room after room of elegance and beauty of the day.
We were in St. Petersburg four days and before we left most of us were coming down with diarhea again and the infection in my thumb had flared up again, requiring another trip to the see the doctor at the hotel clinic and in addition, I started using the pennicilan I had brought with me. But there was not one person in our group who regratted having made the trip. Everyone agreed it was well worth the effort but I would like to add it is
for the seasoned traveler who wants an adventure and to see something
different. There is a very different aura about the country, even going
from one city to another, but isn't that also true of the United States?