Spending Good Friday in St Petersburg we thought things wold be different from home but as you will see not so different…
Good Friday should be known as good intention day. I always start the day with good intentions. One of the good intentions was to follow tradition. The traditions I have is that on Good Friday I don’t eat meat, so it’s fish only. This morning we woke up and our host had prepared another Russian breakfast boiled eggs, (with mayonnaise) toast and saveloys. I’d just finished my second saveloy when it suddenly dawned on me that once again I’d forgotten to stick to tradition but instead had followed the other tradition (which seems to happen more often)realising 1/2 way through breakfast that I shouldn’t be eating meat. Oh well now that I’ve remembered I’ll stick with the program for the rest of the day, starting with not eating the last saveloy.
Good intention number two was leave early and visit the Hermitage Museum. We left late and arrived at the Hermitage about 1130. The visit was gonna cost 1,000 roubles each about $30 each and we had to catch up with our Moscow Couch-surfing friends at 4 pm. We were pretty undecided because one side has all the art and the other all jewellery. We decided that to appreciate it fully and get the most or our money we’d be better served going early and spending the day there. The Hermitage is in the old Winter Palace a huge complex which overlooks a large cobbled square with a huge column in the middle.
We decided to grab a bite to eat and talk about it. We stopped at a little restaurant and ordered a Serbian meal of three types of fish soup. They must’ve been having trouble finding one of the fish because everyone else in the restaurant got served before us, including heaps of people who turned up after us. Now I’ve cooked and consumed enough fish to know that it doesn’t take long to cook it but it became annoying after a while. Eventually the food came out and it was really tasty with great flavours. When it came time to pay it was the same delays. Eventually we just dropped the money on the table on the table and left with a tip as we didn’t want to wait any longer for the change.
The St Isaacs Cathedral was not far away so we decided to visit it. The Cathedral was started in 1818 and took 40 years to build. Tsar Alexander I ordered it and is the 4th church to stand at this place. It was the main cathedral until under the Soviet government, the building was stripped of all religious items an in 1931 turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. After the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship resumed in the Cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the Cathedral is used for services on special feast days only. However the back of the Cathedral is chockas with gift shops and we wondered what Jesus would think wandering around these days.
The interior of the cathedral is mind blowing with huge carved stone arches, with mosaics in semi-precious stones and massive paintings of saints. There was no expense spared when building and outfitting the Cathedral. There’s also a sad tale of the roofers when refurbishing the golden dome had to use mercury as it was the method for gilding. They subsequently died a horrible death due to mercury poisoning. The Cathedral really is a place where to take full advantage of all the beauty you have to sit and slowly take it all in and sadly the photos just do not do it justice.
After the cathedral we headed back to Kazan Cathedral where using the cathedral as a backdrop we face timed my parents so they could share in the beauty of St Petersburg. It is so cool being able to show real time video of where you are.
The weather in St Petersburg has been absolutely awesome and we enjoyed walking along the river to catch up with our Moscow Couch-surfing friends. They were in St Petersburg for a wedding so we caught up at their hostel for a coffee and to say goodbye. They were such amazing hosts and it was nice to have surfed with them.
St Petersburg has a pretty awesome burger bar and tonight we met our host, her boyfriend and his best mate there. It was a great spot with all sorts of stars including Elvis pumping out the tunes on the TV. The burgers were pretty good and we struggled to get our laughing gear around them. The chips were sensational and we put away about five bowls before our host’s boyfriend turned up. It was great fun listening to music and chatting. Pretty soon it was late and we headed back to the apartment to pack our gear.
Tomorrow we move to another part of town to surf with another Couch-surfing host.