EuroChristmas: Catherine Palace

28 December 2015
St. Petersburg (Pushkin), Russia

On Monday, we took a tour to Catherine Palace, about 25 km south of St. Petersburg. The palace is home to the infamous Amber Room, another one of Dad's bucket list items. By his own admission, Dad often says this is one of the subjects he is most well-read about, so we had to see it!

Rick had done some research about how to best get to the palace and see it, and booked us a private guide and transport ahead of time. The van picked us up at 9am, and drove us to Pushkin. Our tour guide narrated along the way, pointing out landmarks within the city, Soviet architecture, and other points of interest. 

Our first stop in Pushkin was a small Orthodox church, where a service was taking place. 

The palace was within walking distance, so we snapped a few photos of the exterior before heading inside.

the palace's chapel, still not open to the public
the golden gates
the palace square
morning sun on the exterior of the building 

Once inside, we checked out coats and put on the required booties to protect the floors from our shoes. Our guide walked us through the palace, explaining the history of the royal families that lived there as well as tidbits about the decor and interiors.

main staircase

this room is inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
more amazing floors 

see the green metallic stripes on the wall? it is made from foil, like you'd find wrapped around chocolate  
my illegal photos of the Amber Room

this dress is a recreation, made from paper mache 
the park at the palace is beautiful 
on the left is a small island, built to house a music hall whose purpose was to house concerts that sounded like music was coming from the middle of nowhere. Rick calls it "the most luxurious thing he's ever head." On the right is the Turkish bath.
Rick and the small palace, or hermitage--"a place to be alone" (the original man cave?)

the closest we came to snow in Russia--some frost on the ground
looking back at the palace

After our tour, we stopped for snacks and warm drinks in a small cafe near the palace--it appeared to be beard themed! :) 

We hit a bit of traffic on the way back in to St. Petersburg, but our driver was able to get us back to the city and eventually to the port in plenty of time to catch the boat back to Helsinki. A brass band was playing outside the ferry terminal when we arrived. 

We cleared Russian customs, and I managed to snap a quick photo of my immigration departure card, with my names spelled using the Russian alphabet. 

Then, it was back to our floating home away from home for the trip back to Helsinki. Luckily, with no incidents or delays this time! A few photos of the interior of the boat, for posterity's sake!

the boat's main staircase
duty free
the casino
the buffet 
the Italisn/sushi restaurant 
Before we knew it, we were back in Finland! 


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