Long Days and White Nights

Location: St. Petersburg, Russia

My internal clock’s taking a beating this week. First there was the nine-hour time change between home and Stockholm. Then we jumped ahead another hour in Helsinki, and another hour here, and then tomorrow night we go back an hour as we start circling back. We’ve been changing time zones almost every night since we left home. Plus of course these are the famous White Nights in Russia, when the sun never really sets, so my body’s been mighty confused.

Fortunately, a little adrenaline can go a long way. I was stoked for our visit to Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer palace on the Gulf of Finland. It’s much smaller than the Catherine Palace but we thought it had much more interesting state rooms. The main attraction is not actually the palace itself, but the park around it: 150 fountains, several mini palaces and loads of trees and flowers make for an amazing walk, especially when you have brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the low 20s. Wow.

After a cafeteria lunch of beef stroganoff (we’re really getting into this Russian cuisine), we toured yet another palace, this one belonging to the Yusopov family. At one time the Yusopovs were among the richest families in Russia. They owned five palaces in St. Petersburg alone, plus others throughout Russia, France, Britain and Germany. (Yet it’s still not uncommon for Russians to live in apartments where they have to share tiny kitchens with other families — the gap between rich and poor is not to be believed.) The palace we were in is best known as the place where Rasputin was supposedly murdered, so of course they had wax figures depicting the dirty deed, along with documents trying to clear up the historical mystery. It was pretty interesting.

One more day in Russia…