Okay, is it called the Hermitage State Museum, or Winter Palace?
Honestly, I did NOT know the answer to that question until just now.
I mean, I THOUGHT I knew. I THOUGHT the answer was “both!”
But no. Actually, one gigantic building is the Hermitage… one gigantic building is the Winter Palace… and then there are others in the complex of palaces.
Well, whatever, I’d still say the names are interchangeable. Because really it’s an art and culture museum… and one of the most exquisite I have ever seen.
I think my appreciation of the palace was boosted by the fact that we’d just watched “Russian Ark” before visiting Russia. That film is lush, entrancing, hypnotizing… one of my favourites. (It’s filmed completely at the Hermitage, all in one long unbroken shot!) It was fantastical to visit the palace right after having seen it. Felt dreamy.
Except for the oppressive heat and crowds.
Typically, most people wouldn’t endure the same crowds as we do, because we tend to travel during high season. We don’t have much of a choice in the matter so we just go for it and suck it up. But as for the heat, 2010 was an unusual year for Russia. I only mention this again because these two factors cause me significant discomfort… makes me feel angsty and provoked.
As a rule, I’m not a competitive person. I never had a sister, and growing up with boys made me very frank about everything, so there are nuances with women that I’m either utterly ignorant of, or notice but am thoroughly confused by. Also, I’ve never been sporty. I just figure everyone should do their own thing and be happy about it. Either that or work nicely together. But I definitely don’t understand competition.
Until you put me in the Winter Palace with a map and a tonne of confused tour groups breathing down my neck.
Suddenly, it became my goal to see everything BEFORE the tour groups did. I felt like they were chasing me. I became aggressive. “I know EXACTLY where we should go. This way! Hurry! Before the tour groups follow us!” I must have barked that out a hundred times as we rushed through the palace, barely pausing long enough to glance at all the stunning art and architecture that surrounded us.
I wrote in my journal: “Thanks to Andrew booking tickets online, we were able to bypass a line that had about 200 people in it, at 10:30 am! What an insanely busy place — but PHENOMENAL. Every room was different! Some were gold and blue, some were red and white, some deep blue and dark, with granite pillars, others were… well, they were all ornate, and vividly unique. I loved it! Important to have a map there, to better appreciate what you’re seeing, and not get lost.”
Gotta love my lazy journaling.
Here are the pictures I’d promised!
I have no idea what room this was taken in. I’m just including this one because my hair looks nice and I’m trying to make up for all the ugly pictures I included in my “glasses” post.
Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son.”
Looking closely at a painting.
Horses need armour too.
Taking a break, Winter-Palace-style.
Opulence in Pavilion Hall.
If you don’t refer to your map here, you might as well give up.
Quick photo-op before the next mass of our fellow tourists swamp in and ruin yet another shot. (I know, I’m a jerk, you don’t have to tell me. But you can, if you like.)
If you look closely at the above picture, you’ll see that there are in-line skating athletes doing laps, and they’re using what appear to be ski-poles. We had to be careful not to have them crash into us upon our exit.
And that, Andrew and Lauren, is what I have to say about our visit to the Hermitage! (What? I know you’re the only ones reading this. And I love you both for it.)