All seven of us hired a private driver to take us on a full day tour. I booked it through a company called Red October and it was great. They showed up with a comfortable 16 person vehicle complete with driver and English speaking guide just for us. We were equipped with headphones and an itinerary that was mind boggling. We left the ship at 7 AM and dragged ourselves back on board 11 hours later at 6 PM. That guide really earned her money. She spoke for 11 hours. We even ate our lunch in the van to save time because the traffic was so bad and we had so much to see.
Our first stop was the Catherine Palace.
Let me begin by saying that Catherine the Great was my kind of empress. Granted she had her husband murdered but he was a weenie anyway and couldn't rule. Catherine led with an iron will, loved beautiful things and had lots of handsome lovers. She had her pick of any man she wanted. All she had to do was give him a palace or something. Being Empress is good.
So here we go....The Catherine Palace. Opulence, opulence, opulence
And that is just the outside!! All that glitters IS gold, by the way. Now we will go inside. But first we have to be properly attired, hence the booties.
NOW we are ready to go inside. No running commentary, instead you will have to gorge yourself on the most over the top opulence you have ever seen. Enjoy!
Whew! And that was just the first corridor!! This next picture gives you some idea of the scale. Room, after room, after room, after room of opulence.
The Amber Room was along this corridor. As we all know it was hijacked by the Germans and lost. The room has been recreated but no photos are allowed. There was one original panel among the reproduction and I have to say it was stunning and obvious to me that it was of much higher quality than the remainder
of the room. The original room must have been mind blowing. Anyway, we will now continue on our journey.
Some place, huh! How did you like the room with the walls covered with paintings? It was an Empress kind of wallpaper! Now let's see some of the smaller pieces of grandeur including clocks, lamps, incense burners, furniture, you name it!!