Today was another great day in St. Petersburg! At 9:30 this morning we met up with Svetlana and rode the public bus to the Hermitage. The bus was very user friendly—we were able to buy tickets in the bus itself.
After making a few stops, the bus made it to the area of the Hermitage in time for our 10:15 entrance into the museum. A large part of the Hermitage had been a residence of Russian tsars. It was beautiful! The entrance to the exhibits had a magnificent staircase. Everyone imagined themselves as guests of the royal family as we climbed the stairs and entered several halls and throne rooms. While in one of the first rooms, our group increased by one. A woman apparently from the Ural Mountains tagged along with us for almost two hours! We didn’t think she spoke English, but she seemed interested in Svetlana’s tour anyway.
Unfortunately, we could not see the entire collection at the Hermitage. It contains so many masterpieces and artifacts that it would take three years to see the each piece for only one minute. We enjoyed touring for two hours, but then we were ready to have lunch with Jane’s friend who was a curator there. Jane’s friend told us about Hermitage and her experiences as a woman in Soviet and Post-Soviet times. It was really interesting to hear her perspective. She seemed like a brilliant person!
After our two-hour lunch break, we toured the treasury at the Hermitage. Our guide there told us about almost every broach, snuff box, necklace and crown on display. It was interesting to find out how jewelers disguised less expensive gems to look more luxurious. For example, jewelers could dye one type of porous gem in hot water. Jewelers also set clear diamonds on colored foil to look like a different, rarer type of diamond.
After the tour, several of us rode the bus by ourselves while others enjoyed a second boat tour. Now we have the evening off and are planning a game of Mafia. I’m sure more will be posted tomorrow!
PS: Keep commenting! We love hearing from all of you!