It’s day thirteen of our holiday in Saint Petersburg, and we take a taxi to Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village), fifteen miles outside the city.
The countryside outside Saint Petersburg is nice – not an industrial nightmare. Some of the blocks of flats on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg are very big, and grey, but that is not unusual anywhere in the world.
Historical note: In 1918, Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Detskoye Selo (Children’s Village) by the Bolsheviks. In 1937 its name was changed again. This time it was changed to Pushkin to commemorate the centenary of the poet’s death.
That said, the guide books mention Tsarskoye Selo and everyone seemed to know Tsarskoye Selo and where it is.
Peter the Great gave the palace as a present to his future Empress Catherine I in 1708.
The palace is so big it beggars the eyes. How to take in and grasp the size of this long, long building in pastel blue with gold domes? It makes Buckingham Palace in London look like a shed.
It is hot, and the queues to go inside the palace are long. We decide not to spend an afternoon queuing, and instead we walk in the gardens, amid trees and to the Grotto pavilion next to the lake in the grounds.
As small as the pavilion is compared to the palace, we decide it would make a nice pad to spend the summer.
We go to the outdoor cafe (also in the grounds) and we eat bits of this and that, and then ice cream.
Later, I get talking to a Korean man. He has a Fuji camera and we get talking. We exchange stories of comments we had received before we came – from people who had asked ‘Why would you want to go to Russia?’
To get back to Saint Petersburg we had arranged to meet our taxi on the street at a certain point and I photographed the spot so that we could find it when we came out of the palace grounds. I see that the photo captures the look of the town.
Coming back into Saint Peterburg in the taxi, I take a photo through the window and have a satisfying feeling of it being good to be back in the city.
If you didn’t catch the previous episodes of the diary, click here for Part One of the Saint Petersburg Diary.