After walking past it several times, we finally managed to actually visit one of the most iconic cathedrals in StP – the Church (of the Savior) on Spilled Blood. The interiour is even more spectacular than the (eye) candy jar exteriour. There was a free tour in Russian at the time of our visit, too, but I didn’t catch much, as a had a moment of panic because my camera refused to work. I’m still scarred from the last time my camera suddenly died on me in China after it had soldiered on for a couple of months depite a broken display (I’d fallen down a flight of stairs during a hike, I was fine, the camera wasn’t, sadly). This time, it turned out my trusty OMD EM-5 – while pretty much waterproof – isn’t particularly cold-resistant (see below).
Afterwards, we made our way across the river, freezing our faces off (it was about -12°C) in the process, to visit the Artillery/Military History Museum. I’d never felt as cold before, needless to say, taking pictures was an incredibly painful affair. I couldn’t care less about about tanks and arms and military paraphernalia, but Mr. K is hugely into the technical side of artillery – luckily for him, Russia offers lots of opportunities to get cozy with tanks. Looks like Russian kids are panzer aficionados, too, because they had a temporary exhibition of the “Draw your favourite tank” competition entries going on. Just what modern kids need to be learning about. But they’ve got colouring books of military jets and weapons in China and the US as well, so it’s not an isolated phenomenon. I feel safer already.
The afternoon was filled with more museum visits – what else to do in St. Petersburg, some would say – to the wonderful Museum of Ethnography and the extensive Russian Museum.
While the Chinese are quite proud of their 56 “nationalities”/minorities, the peoples’ cultures of Russia present and past showcased in the Museum of Ethnography are rather diverse, as well, and some certainly not very well known. Coupled with the a free audio (smartphone) guide, the visit turned out to be an educational one. As for the Russian museum, an art museum, Andy Warhols adage “The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel.” almost rings true for me when it comes to paintings, with the difference that I simply feel emptier, but not better.
There were some gems that stood out for me, some even in the modern art wing, which I didn’t expect.
(My fave: The framing here is superb, each hole or module contains a worker’s vignette…)
I’m more of a artisanal handicraft person than an art lover. Fortunately, there was a section showcasing Russian handicrafts, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Dinner was a fabulous meal at the Armenian restaurant Eriwan. Most of the time, we didn’t have a clue what meals to expect from the names and descriptions on the menu, but a simultaneously flustered and caring waitress took us under her wings, going as far as to portion out or cut pieces for us. Made me feel a little infantile. The food was to die for, though, and lots of vegan choices. The garlicky vegetable soup and the silky hummus we our favourites. I loved the decor and tableware, as well. Food presentation makes a huge difference.