The guide, Peter had warned us yesterday that today would be May 9th, Victory Day. There would be parades down Nevsky Prospect and there would be huge crowds which would make viewing the parades difficult unless you got there early.
Rather than face the hordes, I decided to see some of the major sights. My first on the list was the Mariinsky Theatre which I could reach by following the canal outside my hotel most of the way.
It was quite peaceful strolling along beside the canal. May 9th is a national holiday so there was no hustle and bustle. Fortunately it was not raining.
The Griboyedov Canal must have been a desirable address because there are plenty of distinguished buildings on either side.
One of the foot bridges over the canal guarded by lions.
The Marriinsky Theater. I would have liked to have gone to a performance there but I know I would be too tired after walking around for so long in the day.
The Moyka River that meanders through St P. In the background is the dome of St Issac's Cathedral.
Not every building is restored. I wondered why this one was still in poor condition when surrounding buildings were in good shape. Perhaps it is left there as a reminder of what happened in WWII.
The river was blocked off. I wondered if it had anything to do with the parade security. Probably not.
St Issac's Cathedral.
I paid 250 rubles ($8) to get in and although the photos don't show too many people, it was fairly crowded. An alternative to going inside was to climb the cupola for good views of St P. With all the walking I planned to do this day, I chose to stay on the ground.
The pulpit. This Wiki article suggests that only a small part of the church is now used for religious services.
Each end of the church had an enormous door.
Detail of the door.
War time photo of growing some sort of vegetable in front of the church.
After I exited the cathedral, it was obvious that the parade had finished. There were plenty of men in uniform relaxing and smoking cigarettes.
Everybody seemed to be happy and relaxed. A rock band started to play as I wandered past.
I thought I would look good in that grey uniform.
I have no idea what this is about. It was a 10 meter or so length of train line that obviously had some significance.
There was a huge crowd still wandering around at the Winter Palace. The Hermitage Museum is in there but I suspect it was closed this day.
It seemed like everyone was taking part in a group photo. Navy cadets graduate this day each year, similar to the event in Annapolis.
The Winter Palace.
A canal that passes beside the Palace and enters the Neva.
The island where I had been walking the day before. You can make out the columns of the Stock Exchange.
My next destination was the Peter and Paul Fortress. The spire for the Peter and Paul Cathedral is on the right. Barrage balloons carried Russian flags.
Quite a few people were carrying these red flags or the red white and blue Russian flags.
The bridge over the Neva to the Peter and Paul Island.
The bridge was lined with flags. It's about 600 meters long.
It seemed like quite a few families had decided to do their annual visit to the fortress.
I was coming in from the right hand side.
The walls of the fortress.
That stretch of cobbles was incredibly difficult to walk on. I moved to the footpath on the right so that I wouldn't twist an ankle.
Above the entrance to the fort.
The sun finally made an appearance and the dome and spire glowed.
There are quite a few museums housed in the buildings on the island. I decided not to go in because I would probably have no idea what they were about if the signs were all in Russian.
It must be good luck to hold the hand of this statue of Peter I.
You could buy tickets in this little building to get into the cathedral where the Russian Czars are buried.
It was a zoo inside so I decided to give the Czars a miss. Children were throwing coins into the boat.
I continued to wander around the island.
Guns on the roof of the ramparts.
Now here is a great idea, Toilet Buses. It looks like buses have been converted into portable toilets. One bus for women,one for men. Simply take an old bus, install the toilets and drive them to where they are needed. They charged 25 rubles.
Another grand building at the western end of the island, but nobody was showing any interest in it. Just park the tourist buses outside.
Those who have been following my blogs for some time know that I have a fascination for interesting gates and doors. My day was made with this one.
I had read a sign that at noon they fired two cannon. Duly at noon I heard a bell start to chime and then boom, boom, incredibly loud booms from close by that really made be jump. I suspect they came from the cannons on the roof in the other photo rather than these two.
I left the fortress and crossed back over the river on the same bridge. I passed through a park that was fairly uninteresting.
Except for a garden in the center which had a flame of remembrance to the fallen. On this special day, there were plenty of people paying homage.
My next stop looming in the distance, the Church of the Savior on Blood.
As you might expect, it was a popular destination for locals on this holiday.
It cost 250 rubles ($8) to get in.
According to the Wiki article, the church has over 7500 square meters of mosaics. I can well believe it and it's quite overwhelming.
Closeup of the mosaics in the figure below.
I only see these photos on my netbook's small screen that does not show colour too well. I will be interested to see how this turns out on a big screen.
Just a small fraction of the people who were crowded into the church. Most were Russians.
If you read the Wiki article, you will find out about the assassination of Alexander II and the construction of this church on the spot where the assassination happened.
Faberge eggs for sale on the way out.
View from the southern side that gets more sunlight.
So I strolled back beside the Griboedov Canal to my hotel, well satisfied with my day's effort.
Russian Fairy Floss (cotton candy). The Russians really make this a family holiday and good on them.
Winged beasts guarding this foot bridge.
Lining the streets are these drain pipes for rain landing on the roofs of the apartments. I presume the water just runs out onto the footpath and eventually finds a drain.
I went back to the same restaurant for dinner as last night. This time I had the lamb, pilaf and dried fruit. It was very good but not as outstanding as what I had the night before.
Tomorrow I leave for Moscow by train at 13:30. So far I have really enjoyed my time in St P.