With minimal wifi, we will have to wait until we get home to see the rest of Laurie’s pictures.
Back in Helsinki after our third and final overnight ferry, with our final concert on Sunday night, and the end of tour.
St. Petersburg left a huge impression on all of us such that everyone is struggling to come up with words to express what we just experienced. From the Winter Palace to the Cathedral on Spilled Blood to the Hermitage, it’s just so much larger than life.
We saw the city from the top of St Isaac Cathedral, from the water, and from walking between our various destinations. The scale of the city certainly reflects the dreams of the Russian Imperial family, especially Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, as we learned from various tour guides.
The Hermitage is a pretty good representation of the scale of St Petersburg, and the grandeur we experienced. To start with, it’s by far the largest museum in the world, with over 3 million objects in the collection. Add to that, one of the buildings is the Winter Palace, which has 1,057 rooms. One of the Ceremonial Halls that we saw was so big that boys decided the they could have played soccer in there when the weather was bad, and would have room to spare. And then there’s the chapel. So much gold…
Throughout, we’ve enjoyed our connections with Russians. Remember the response of the audience to the post-concert South African sing, where they sang back to us? That happened on Friday, too, in a most unexpected way. We had gathered on one of the bridges to head for some shopping at an open air market near the Cathedral on Spilled Blood. The bridge is a natural destination for wedding photos, with the cathedral in the background. As the photographer captured the bride and groom’s special day, Mr Fisher called the boys to standing order, and started Shumeyela, and the bride and groom started dancing, clearly loving the serenade for their photo session. Then the grads surrounded another couple and sang “In the Still of the Night”. As the boys started walking away, the groom, the bride and a couple of their friends broke into song themselves, a beautiful song in that incredible Russian harmony. We returned the gesture, and the grads sang Salvation is Created, in Russian. Cheers back and forth, with good wishes for the bride and groom, and for our safe travels.
Final view of the port of St Petersburg, with a vestige of Soviet days – Wiley pointed out the sign that reads Leningrad in Russian