When my sister and I were little girls, we waited (kind of breathlessly, actually) each year for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella to show on television. What an event! We LOVED it! Do you remember . . . the scene when they show the palace gates opening . . . to the song. . . "The Prince is giving a ball! The Prince is giving a ball!" Oh, so exciting!
Maybe . . . this is why my sister and I love to visit palaces so much*!
The Tsar is giving a ball! The Tsar is giving a ball! (Yes. We sang it to each other.)
The first place we visited (once we cleared Russian Immigration and climbed aboard the tour bus) was the Catherine Palace (the Summer Palace of the Tsars).
When we visited Versailles last year, it was a madhouse! There were throngs (absolute throngs!) of visitors EVERYwhere. If you remember, we were "Versailles'd ourselves". . . ).
There were throngs of visitors here at the Catherine Palace as well. But the only lines were OUTSIDE the palace. There was a very systematic and organized system for actually touring the inside of the palace. It was quite refreshing (once you got inside), because you could actually SEE the rooms and hear the tour guides (not the case at Versailles, trust me).
I was particularly awestruck by Those Domes!
Once inside, we had to don these little protective booties to wear over our shoes during the tour.
So chic! (There were blue booties, too. We wore them at another palace.)
The palace was gorgeous. The ballroom was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
We had a little fun with the mirrors. . .
My favorite thing (other than The Amber Room -- which was INCREDIBLE ["Eighth Wonder of the World" wonderful!] -- but we weren't allowed to take photographs**) was this collection of oil portraits. . .
all framed (all walls of the room) "collage" style.
Such a beautiful place!
The next day*** we visited the Peterhof Palace (the "Russian Versailles") built and designed by Peter the Great.
Photos were not allowed inside the palace, so you'll just have to imagine with me . . . incredible beauty. . . amazing shiny objects. . . stunning wonders . . . and blue paper booties covering our shoes.
There were a lot of people at Peterhof, but (again) the tours were incredibly organized. (I think those Russians have people-moving down to a science.) Once outside the palace (just in time to see The Cascade . . . a series of amazingly impressive fountains from the palace all the way to the Baltic) . . .
we lived in fear . . . of losing sight of our tour group's "lollypop" sign!
We may have gotten a little silly out there . . .
in the midst of the cascade. . .
and had a little too much fun posing for photos. . .
with golden man-bits above our heads!
Anyway. The Cascade was lovely. . .
and perfectly fitting for a Tsar. . . giving a ball!
* We've visited Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace in London, and Versailles in Paris, in addtion to the Summer Palace, the Winter Palace, and Peterhof in St. Petersburg.
** The Amber Room inspired us both to purchase several pieces of Baltic Amber jewelry on the trip. Oh so beautiful.
*** Trust me, there were many other sights to see on the first day . . . after the Catherine Palace. . . but they weren't palaces. See other Adventures in St. Petersburg coming soon!