We have arrived in Saint Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia! Previously called Saint Petersburg, Leningrad, and Petrograd, the city is again named Saint Petersburg or informally, Peter. The first thing we did was to make our way to the Hermitage Museum. Russian Ark , we wandered from room to room awed by the architecture of the building and the art within. (Russian Ark is a single-shot walkthrough film with period re-enactments, spanning three hundred years of court meetings and balls in the Winter Palace. - Thanks, Todd, for the tip!)
We were not the only ones visiting the Hermitage Museum to view the world's largest collection of paintings. The crowds were thick during this summer season, and often we waited for large groups to clear before we could admire the works of da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, van Gogh... Empress Catherine II started the Hermitage collections in 1764. Since then, the collections have grown, been sold off, and grown some more into the fabulous collection it is today.
But at some point, we just gave up. We learned that if we spent just 1 minute admiring each item in the Hermitage, it would take 11 years to see it all.
Yours from Russia with love,