June 26, 2013 - Morning at Pushkin

Today's a big one.
Iren picks us up again and takes us well out of the city.
This is a fairly typical sight (and one we past repeatedly over the three days we were here) - a gorgeous Orthodox church hiding behind boring communist buildings.

Lenin points to the people, showing them the importance of working.

The Nazis seige of St. P lasted nearly two years.
This is a monument to them - and the overall "Great Patriotic War."

Here we are - the gates to Catherine's Palace.
The town (an hour outside the city) is officially Tsarskoye Selo, but known to locals as Pushkin because it was a favorite haunt of the great writer, Alexander Pushkin.
So, many refer to the palace as Pushkin as well.
(Because I talked to Natasha when planning for this part of the trip, I didn't know it was Catherine's Palace until right before the cruise.)

Inside, Iren explains the massive grounds and facade to a fascinated (but itchy?) Aunt Caroline.

Ella loves running up and around the great staircase to the main entrance.

A little like The Hermitage again.
Russians certainly had style.
(Not sayin' they don't still, but they don't still make 'em like this!)

Look how massive this room is - and the whole ceiling is painted - and there are no columns.
(Russians built this in the early 1700s! When I see some of the things they did and built, I wonder why they never took over the world.
Oh yeah. Similar reason to the Irish, but clearer.

Lovin' Catherine's Palace.

I forgot what kind of stoves these are in the corner.
They're impressive in size and function, but also that they are made of china.

Ella finally finds "the princess."
It is a castle, so there had to be one somewhere.
Every time Ella turns away, we tell her that the princess moves.
Man, we're as mean as our parents were!

I love the golden domes.

The grounds are exquisite!

Pretty girls, pretty building.

A good parting shot of the building

and one more with the whole group.

They don't want you to have any fun. No driving or biking. No winter sports of any kind - yeah we mean you, figure skater!