Melanie and I went to St. Petersburg using the Allegro train that runs from Kouvola Finland to Saint Petersburg Russia. The train takes about two hours. Our only glitch was that our train from Kuopio to Kouvola was a bit late and we missed our original train (we got to the train and were pushing the door open button to no avail). Our first day was spent heading to Catherine’s Palace which is about 30 km south of Saint Petersburg. To get there we used the metro and then a K-bus – we were the only tourists on the bus.
The bus route took us past Victory Square and the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
and the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery which includes a series of mass graves that contain the 500,000 residents of St. Petersburg and Russian soldiers that were killed during the World War II Siege of Leningrad.
Catherine Palace was the summer palace of the Tsars and construction began under the direction of Catherine I in 1717. It was expanded significantly by Catherine II (Catherine the Great) The Palace was occupied by the Germans during the Siege and heavily damaged.
The palace has undergone extensive renovations – and it is difficult to distinguish between original elements of the Palace versus the renovated portions.
The hall of mirrors was copied from the Palace of Versaille in France.
One of the most impressive rooms is the amber room. The room had thousands of pieces of Baltic amber and was looted by the Germans during World War II. The Germans ransacked the room and its contents were lost.
The renovated room is a remarkable piece of art in its own right.
We spent several hours wandering around the palace grounds and then returned back to St. Petersburg.