Our destination on day three of our Russia/Baltic trip was Peterhof, the grandest of St. Petersburg’s suburban estates. After leaving our hotel on Nevsky Prospekt, we ventured back into the metro (note the pillars and chandeliers in photo below) and then boarded a hydrofoil. In less than an hour we were on our way to the Hermitage Pavilion.
There we discovered the Lifting Table, an unusual invention designed to ensure the tsar dined in privacy with his guests. Photos and videos were not permitted inside, so you’ll have to use your imagination here. But picture people sitting around a table with dinner plates in front of them. When a course is over, only the portions of the table on which their plates rest—cut-out circles, in essence—slowly move downwards to the kitchen to be cleared, leaving the balance of the table in place. New dishes are placed on the movable table sections which are then hauled upwards, using a rope and pulley system.
Next stop: Marly Palace, a baroque mansion designed as a private retreat for Peter the Great.
Portions of Anna Karenina (the 2000 version with Sophie Marceau of Braveheart fame, and Sean Bean of Patriot Games) were filmed on site. Here, memorabilia and a photo of set directors creating some atmosphere:
After a quick lunch at Marly Café, we strolled the Lower Park, discovering a fountain at every turn. We paused at the Aviary Pavilion, with its resident Russian song birds and parrots, before admiring the statues and fountains gracing the outside of Monplaisir, Peter the Great’s private residence in the Palace complex.
The bucolic setting relaxed us and slowed our pace, and the long stretches we covered walking the grounds consumed the afternoon. There was no time for Alexandria Park, as it was already close to 4:00 p.m. and we still hadn’t even been to the Grand Palace, which was a must. We turned toward it, walking up a rise until we encountered this stunning staircase.
According to TripAdvisor, the Grand Palace is number 1 of 62 things to do at Peterhof alone. If we’re fortunate enough to return some day, we’ll spend at least one night in the area to do the sites justice, and we suggest the same to you. There’s way too much here to hurry through.
You can visit the Throne Room, Ballroom, White Dining Room, Peter the Great’s Oak Study and more here: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/peterhof/grand-palace/
Note: My intention was to present this series within a brief period of time, as I did with Ireland. But more travel and work obligations got in the way. So, while occasionally there’ll be another post relating to St. Pete, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Moscow, and The Golden Ring (the order in which we traveled through Russia and the Baltic States), for now my attention is turned to my new position as Portugal Correspondent for International Living Magazine. Come visit us at www.facebook.com/internationalliving.com/europe. See you soon! –TP