How about some more armchair travel?
Several of you submitted your vacation memories after I requested them last fall.
What better time to share these vacation stories? We can’t travel now, but we can hold on to our memories, and vicariously enjoy someone else’s trip.
Last month, Megan Nelson shared her harrowing first camping and backpacking adventure. Today, hop on board with my friends Wayne Holubetz and his wife Julie. Wayne is a full time realtor with Response Realtors in Delafield, Wisconsin. He and Julie love to travel, particularly to Great Britain.
But this time . . . Destination: Russia, Sept 30 – October 8, 2019.
Wayne and Julie had the thrill of taking in the grandeur and flavor of Russia, old and new. In Moscow, the Kremlin sprawls over dozens of acres, comprised of palaces, cathedrals, the Armory, and museums of royal treasures. Also near Red Square, the bold, breathtaking architecture of St. Basil’s Cathedral burgeons in primary colors.
In St. Petersburg, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is covered with mosaics.
The State Hermitage Museum features six buildings housing art collections of Imperial Russian history and other great civilizations.
Another highlight was the Faberge’ Museum—which features a different kind of Easter egg, nothing like those you’d find on a typical Easter egg hunt.
These works of art are known as the Faberge’ eggs. Between 1885 and 1917, the Russian Tsars, Alexander III and Nicholas II, commissioned the creation of these Imperial eggs as Easter gifts. (I apologize that I’m unable to add the accent mark over the second e in Faberge.)
A Visit to the Faberge’ Museum — by Wayne
We really didn’t know what to expect when we booked a trip to Russia with a tour group headquartered in Spain. For the most part, we were very pleasantly surprised.
A number of things were highlights of the trip. One was the Faberge’ museum. Peter Karl Faberge’ was the “Jeweler to the Czar” in imperial Russia. He created beautiful, unique gifts for the Czar to give to his wife and family members. There are only about 50 known Faberge’ eggs left in the world and about 30 of them are in the museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The room that houses them is, by itself, very lovely.
The eggs and other jeweled creations are in glass cases and you can get very close to view them. The eggs, made of enamel, are encrusted with real jewels. They are usually able to be opened, revealing miniature creations inside.
Above is the Imperial state coach which is made of solid gold. Another held a working model of a train (engine and 3 cars). Yet another had 3 individual picture frames that popped out when the egg was opened with a key. None of these eggs is larger than your fist!
They are priceless, not just because of the jewels, but because of the superb craftsmanship.
As we viewed these magnificent creations, one of the non-American, non-Russian members of our tour group took a docent up to a case, pointed at the Imperial Egg inside it, and said, “How much?”—as if A) it was for sale, and B) he could afford it.
As the British might say, we found this a little “cheeky.” This was also the person who argued for twenty minutes over the price of a $10 fake Russian fur hat. We did our best to avoid his party for the rest of the trip.
Travel doesn’t come without its “cheeky” moments. Some humorous ones, too. In fact, what stereotypical images come to mind when you think of particular places—like Ireland, Mexico, Hawaii, France, or Russia?
And which stereotypes do people from Ireland, Mexico, Hawaii, France, or Russia have about us? Not only about us, but our history and geography?
Well, Wayne and Julie found out.
Last Night in St. Petersburg — by Wayne
It was our last night in St. Petersburg, Russia, and we had a wonderful meal at a Georgian restaurant. (Georgia is an area in Russia.) As we paid the bill, the waiter, in accented English, asked, “Where from?”
We replied, “United States.” Thinking that he might not be familiar with Milwaukee or Pewaukee, we added, “Chicago.”
“Aaahh.” Making a gun with his thumb and forefinger, he said, “Al Capone!”
Like we who have watched too many old Soviet era movies, he had obviously watched too many American prohibition flicks.
Thanks for sharing, Wayne! The beautiful places you saw whet my appetite for a trip of my own.
Have you ever been to Russia? Or have you seen a beautiful work of art that left a lasting impression? Or have you had a funny experience as an American in a foreign country?
Please add your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!