Tuesday, August 19

Paula: Our last day in St. Petersburg was crowned with a beautiful blue sky and a warm breeze. We spent the morning finalizing plans for Istanbul and packing, and then met Sasha for another visit to the Hermitage. We also wanted to take some more pictures of the Winter Palace area, to capture the scene on such a nice day.

We focused our visit this time on the Impressionists exhibit and some of the palace's rooms we had missed during our tour earlier in the week (there's absolutely no way to see everything here in a day). Sasha provided inspirational commentary on the impressionist art and we enjoyed viewing work by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Matisse. David especially liked a piece of art entitled, "Black Square" (there's a picture and commentary in our photo album for today). Sasha described a theory we had not heard before about impressionism. He explained that brush strokes of different color, without defined edges, make it difficult for the eye to determine depth. This causes the eye to pulsate and leads to the impression that the work of art is alive, breathing, and moving! We also learned that most of the Hermitage's collection of impressionism was either confiscated from two private Russian collectors after the revolution or taken from Germans during WWII when Russia occupied Germany. Several German families are currently fighting to have these works returned.

I was glad to have come to the Winter Palace area again-the sunny day made the gold trim and domes sparkle-the square was even more beautiful than earlier in the week.

We also walked down Nevsky Prospekt which was busier than we had seen it on previous days and while there discussed what to do on our last evening in St. Petersburg. We discussed several options about how to spend the rest of our last day - to my surprise both David and Katie were most enthusiastic about returning to the Mariinsky Theater to see another ballet. Sasha did his magic and got us great tickets again - this time 6th row center. We were thrilled!

Before attending the theater, we walked by St. Nichols Church and admired it and the surrounding canal. The kids had fun chasing the pigeons, while Steve & Sasha tried to capture the action with the camera.

The ballet was about the Spanish adventure stories of Don Quixote. The kids were familiar with this light-hearted story from their Spanish class. We again had wonderful time and the production was colorful and lots of fun. We all enjoyed shouting "bravo" at the end of the performance.

Then it was off to the train station for our night cabin ride to Moscow. It was sad to say goodbye to Sasha and St. Petersburg. Sasha insisted that we listen to the St. Petersburg hymn before boarding the train (he explained that we were on an "official government train" that is used by important people to travel between St. Petersburg and Moscow) and we promised to come back someday and tour the Russian countryside with him as our guide. We waved goodbye through our cabin window to our wonderful new friend from Russia.



The train's sleeping cabin was small but cozy and once we figured out how to store away our luggage we settled in our beds for the 8 hour journey. The train quickly rocked Katie to sleep, but it took the rest of us quite a while to doze off. The next morning, Katie bragged that this was her best night of sleep so far!

Distance Walked: 3.65 miles
















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