At the hotel breakfast buffet, there is the standard fruit, bread, muffins, croissants, cereal that you would get in the US. But along with these are various types of smoked fish, and an iced pyramid with a bowl of caviar nestled at the top. Of course I had some, no need to ask.
Our hotel is extraordinarily luxurious–we were upgraded when we arrived at one am. They walked us down the street from the hotel we paid for to the ritzier one next door. Maybe out of pity for our disheveled state? In addition to caviar, there are the biggest towels I’ve ever used, a huge bathtub (with a giant blowup of a photo from “To Russia with Love” of Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi lounging adorning the bathroom wall), real linen napkins at breakfast and twice a day maid service.
I’ve been adventurous with dinners, too, choosing reindeer one night (a mistake!) and rabbit another. The food here seems at least as expensive as Italy and not nearly as good.
Yesterday we took the hydrofoil to Peterhof, the country equivalent of the Hermitage. It was a very a la carte experience, one fee for the boat, one to get into the lower gardens, and more for anything else you wanted to do. But the lower gardens are vast, and contain some of the most amazing (and phallic!) fountains I’ve ever seen.
Apparently, they all run without pumps, simply by water pressure from the decrease in levels from the pools up the hill. As the main one shoots at least 25 feet into the air and is surrounded by multiple spouts. We had a long ramble in the gardens, feeling somewhat Victorian.
We were lucky to have what they call a “women’s summer” day–our Indian summer. I like the sweetness of the Russian phrase much better than the tainted imagery of our idiom. Today is more typical of the season, overcast with rain threatening. We’re off to the Church of Spilled Blood and the Russian Museum.