A Travellerspoint blog


Back to the great city

We arrived in Berlin at 3.30pm on Friday 5 September and will stay till Wednesday 10 September when we fly to Vienna. We have travelled 4 352km by coach and a further 400km by ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Today was a day of 550km travelling west across the plains of central Poland and over the border into Germany, arriving later in the exciting city of Berlin! Our hotel is in what was once East Berlin.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.5 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the River Spree, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about 4.5 million residents from over 180 nations. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

Berlin's history has left the city with a highly eclectic array of architecture and buildings. The city's appearance today is predominantly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin—the Kingdom of Prussia, the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and now the reunified Germany—initiated ambitious (re-) construction programs, with each adding its own distinctive style to the city's architecture.

On Saturday, 6 September, we had a city tour followed by a tour around Berlin's recent dark past.

Our first stop was at the Reichstag, the people's Parliament built in 1874 and partly destroyed by fire in 1933. The building was very badly damaged during WW2 and has now been restored and had a large glass dome added. This part of the building was designed by British Atchitect Lord Norman Foster.

Of those that were not totally, destroyed many have been rebuilt.

The Berlin Museum
The Berlin Cathedral or Dom
Fresco above the main door of the Cathedral Dom

Panel showing Martin Luther on the Berlin Dom.

The Brandenburg Gate
Winged Chariot above the Brandenburg Gate

Photo showing what the area looked like at the Brandenburg Gate at the end of WW2.

Official residence of the President of Germany - The Bellevue Palace.

Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II, and many of the buildings that had remained after the war were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s in both West and East Berlin. Much of this demolition was initiated by municipal architecture programs to build new residential or business quarters and main roads.

The pictures below show some of the remnants of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defences. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.


One remaining checkpoint is Checkpoint Charlie shown below.

Where the wall used to be is shown by these courses of cobblestones along the streets of Berlin.

This vehicle is a Trabant, now affectionately known as a Trabi. These cars were made of a lot of plastic, run on petrol and oil and are quite smelly but are still around in numbers as vehicles for hire. The cars were made in East Berlin where people had to pay in advance and wait anywhere from 7 to 13 years to take delivery.

We visited the site of Hitler's Chancellery and the Bunker. The Bunker is not open to the public and is marked by this display above where it is.
The only remaining parts of the Chancellery are these three window frames.

Adjacent to the Chancellery is the Holocaust Memorial to the 6 million Jews who perished during those terrible years.
The Holocaust Memorial.large_8F90A90FEC1C4EE9D571D5A96444ED08.jpg

This is the new Chancellery where Chancellor Angela Merkel has her office.

There was a German resistance to Hitler. There were 40 attempts to assassinate Hitler. On 20 July Graf Von Staffenberg, a Colonel in the Home Army, left a briefcase bomb in The Wolf's Lair which killed some of Hitler's officers but failed to kill him. In retaliation, five leaders including Von Staffenberg were shot in the courtyard of the below Guard Building where this memorial marks the spot. Around 3 000 others were implicated in the plot and most died through hanging.

On Sunday night we had a very enjoyable farewell dinner for our tour group. The music and atmosphere was lively, the food was very good and the drinks were on demand. My stein kept being replaced with a fresh 500ml of good chemical free German beer.

So, the next day was a rest day for us. We caught the tram to Alexanderplatz and enjoyed some currywurst and some shopping. The Galleria shopping centre didn't open till 1.00pm. The Gourmet section of the Galleria has an amazing range of fine gourmet foods. Here are a few pictures.

On Monday 7 September, we had a journey back into the history of Berlin. We took an English speaking walking tour and rode the regional train out to Oranienburg Station and then walked approximately 5km to Saschenhausen Concentration Camp.

Sachsenhausen ( Saxon's Houses or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg) was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD special camp until 1950. The remaining buildings and grounds are now open to the public as a museum.
The camp is about 35 km out of Berlin.

The camp was established in 1936. It was located 35 kilometres north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was located in Oranienburg, and Sachsenhausen became a training centre for Schutzstaffel (SS) officers (who would often be sent to oversee other camps afterwards). Executions took place at Sachsenhausen, especially of Soviet prisoners of war. Among the prisoners, there was a "hierarchy": at the top, criminals (rapists, murderers), then Communists (red triangles), then homosexuals (pink triangles), Jehovah's Witnesses (purple triangles), and Jews (yellow triangles). During the earlier stages of the camp's existence the executions were done in a trench, either by shooting or by hanging. A large task force of prisoners was used from the camp to work in nearby brickworks to meet Albert Speer's vision of rebuilding Berlin. Sachsenhausen was originally not intended as an extermination camp—instead, the systematic murder was conducted in camps to the east. In 1942 large numbers of Jewish inmates were relocated to Auschwitz. However the construction of a gas chamber and ovens by camp-commandant Anton Kaindl in March 1943 facilitated the means to kill larger numbers of prisoners.

It reminded us of man's inhumanity to man and therefore we should never forget this. A former inmate said this much better.


This is where we met our walking tour guide at Central Station.
This is the regional train week took to Oranienburg. There is an excellent S ring train and R regional train network.
We arrived at Oranienburg Station where 13 000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived by train. 10 000 were shot with a neck shot structure in the following 10 weeks.
The site of the neck shot structure where Soviet soldiers were shot.

SS Troops casino.

Street outside the Saschenhausen Concentration camp with original houses used to house guards.
Memorial to the Death March in February 1945. Red Cross buses were allowed or come and rescue Scandinavian prisoners and helped save 6 000 others from starvation.

Like Auschwitz, Saschenhausen had the "Work Sets You Free" logo on the main gate.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 8 September promises to be a more culturally positive day with the visit to the most visited Museum in Germany, The Pergamon.

Just an aside, the German language is pretty easy to interpret. See belowlarge_5B14B5EDC5861DE34E0D032D2F6133D4.jpg

Tuesday 9 September is our last full day in Berlin we made the most of it and visited The Pergamon Museum. The Pergamon Museum is situated on the Museum Island in Berlin. The site was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey.

The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. The museum is visited by approximately 1.8 million people every year, making it the most visited art museum in Germany. We had to queue for an hour and a half to get in.

Amalzon on horseback near entrance to The Pergamon.

Below are some pictures of the Ishtar Gate.

The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was excavated in the early 20th century and a reconstruction using original bricks is now shown in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

Part of the Processional Way from Babylon.


The Market Gate of Miletus (German: das Markttor von Milet) is a large marble monument in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It was built in Miletus in the 2nd century AD and destroyed in an earthquake in the 10th or 11th century. In the early 1900s, it was excavated, rebuilt, and placed on display in the museum. Only fragments had survived and reconstruction involved significant new material, a practice which generated criticism of the museum. The gate was damaged in World War II and underwent restoration in the 1950s. Further restoration work took place in the first decade of the 21st century.

Floor mosaic from the dining room floor of a Roman House.

The Pergamon Altar is a monumental construction built during the reign of King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamon in Asia Minor.

The upper floor has a wonderful Islamic Art section.

Prayer niche from 1226.

800 year old carpet.

The Mshatta Facade is the decorated part of the facade of the 8th century Umayyad residential palace of Qasr Mshatta, one of the Desert Castles in Jordan, which is currently installed in the south wing of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It is part of the permanent exhibition of the Pergamon Museum of Islamic Art dedicated to Islamic art from the 8th to the 19th centuries.

After three hours in the Pergamon, we walked around the Berlin Mitte and most of the way down the Unter Den Linden, the Main Street of Berlin. There is an incredible amount of construction going on.

Tomorrow, we have an early start taking the S train to Tegel Airport to fly to Vienna.

Posted by Kangatraveller 09:04 Archived in Germany Comments (0)


Brest to Warsaw

On Wednesday 3 September we departed Minsk and traversed the huge plains of Belarus and stopped for lunch at Brest on the Polish frontier. Our stop for tonight was to be Warsaw.

Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly 260 kilometres from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population is estimated at 2.6 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 9th most populous capital city in the European Union.

Warsaw is an Alpha– global city, a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in East-Central Europe. It is also known as the "phoenix city" because it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Most notably, the city had to be painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed. On 9 November 1940 the city was awarded Poland's highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, during the Siege of Warsaw (1939).


Just after lunch we crossed the border from Belarus into Poland. Both checkpoints with passports checked etc took a little over 2.5 hours. Apparently this was quite efficient. Belarus is a beautiful, clean and green country undergoing a lot of construction but with low salaries. The state owns everything. Probably the most that we knew about Belarus were the tractors common in Australia along with the giant mining trucks imported from here.

Here are a few photos in Poland. There is a change of currency again with the Polish Zloty worth about 5 to the Euro.

The River Vistula runs through Warsaw and up to the Baltic Sea.


Our Hotel, the Novotel , is right in the centre of Warsaw. Stalin had 8 skyscrapers ordered built in 1955. Seven were in Moscow and the eighth was built in Warsaw as a gift though they had to pay for it. The picture below shows it at night and then in the day.


There are many restaurants around our hotel. We went to the Dubrovnik where I had to have a litre of beer from the tank.

Warsaw was home to the great composer Frederick Chopin.

Chopin's Monument


Four years ago, to help reclaim Chopin as a Warsaw hero the city has placed benches like this around the city with information about Chopin. You can push a button and the music of Chopin plays.

Monument to those who lost their lives in 1939. WW2 started on 3 September 1939 when Great Britain declared war in Germany after it invaded Poland.

The monument below is to the Jewish people of Warsaw who were murdered during WW2.
The Museum of the Holocaust is due to open in the next two months.

Warsaw has a very sad history particularly during WW2. All Jews and quite a few Christians who were deemed to be Jews were confined to a 750 acre area called the Jewish Ghetto. 300 000 of them were sent to Treblinka. The remainder awaited their fate and prepared well for their removal. The first uprising started on 19 April 1943 and ended on the 16 May when the Germans blew up the Synagogue to mark the end of the struggle.

By July 1944, the Red Army was deep into Polish territory and pursuing the Germans toward Warsaw. Knowing that Stalin was hostile to the idea of an independent Poland, the Polish government-in-exile in London gave orders to the underground Home Army (AK) to try to seize control of Warsaw from the Germans before the Red Army arrived. Thus, on 1 August 1944, as the Red Army was nearing the city, the Warsaw Uprising began. The armed struggle, planned to last 48 hours, was partially successful, however it went on for 63 days. Eventually the Home Army fighters and civilians assisting them were forced to capitulate. They were transported to PoW camps in Germany, while the entire civilian population was expelled. Polish civilian deaths are estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000.

The Germans then razed Warsaw to the ground. Hitler, ignoring the agreed terms of the capitulation, ordered the entire city to be razed to the ground and the library and museum collections taken to Germany or burned. Monuments and government buildings were blown up by special German troops known as Verbrennungs- und Vernichtungskommando ("Burning and Destruction Detachments"). About 85% of the city had been destroyed, including the historic Old Town and the Royal Castle.

After the war, the Old Town has been rebuilt some thirty years ago to look like it looked pre war. The Royal Castle below and the buildings in the next pictures are no more than 60 years old but look like they did in the pre war period. The original castle was built in the 15th century.


This is the Old Town Square.

This one Catholic Church that did survey the razing of Warsaw.

Monument to Copernicus, the famous astronomer. Nicholas Copernicus 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543 was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just before his death in 1543 is considered a major event in the history of science, triggering the Copernican Revolution and making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

Tonight, Thursday 4 September, we go to a Polish Folk Lore night. A good night was had by all.

Posted by Kangatraveller 20:53 Archived in Poland Comments (0)


A stopover from Russia to Poland

Today is Tuesday, 2 September and we say farewell to MOSKBA or Moscow and travelled the 700+ km to Minsk. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet and it takes a little getting used to. Signs on the highways show Russian and a Latin version of names. So, STOP is written as CTON and RESTAURANT is written as PECTOPAH.

Minsk is located on the southeastern slope of the Minsk Hills, a region of rolling hills running from the southwest (upper reaches of the river Nioman) to the northeast – that is, to Lukomskaye Lake in northwestern Belarus. The average altitude above sea level is 220 metres. The physical geography of Minsk was shaped over the two most recent ice ages. The Svislach River, which flows across the city from the northwest to the southeast, is in the urstromtal, an ancient river valley formed by water flowing from melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. There are six smaller rivers within the city limits, all part of the Black Sea basin.

Minsk is in the area of mixed forests typical of most of Belarus. Pinewood and mixed forests border the edge of the city, especially in the north and east. Some of the forests were preserved as parks (for instance, the Chelyuskinites Park) as the city grew.

The city was initially built on the hills, which allowed for defensive fortifications, and the western parts of the city are the most hilly.

This morning we left early as we had a long day of travel and didn't cross the border from Russia to the Republic of Belarus until about 2.30pm (actually 3.30pm as we had to put our watches back an hour).

We drove past the region of Borodino, site of Napoleon's great defeat, and stopped for lunch near Smolensk.

Later, we crossed the border into Belarus and continued to Minsk. Belarus is still a communist country with approximately 5 000 state farms. Agriculture is very important to their economy. Here are a few views along the way.
This is a state owned farm.

We had a short stop in the afternoon. the pictures below show some items for sale at the shop. 12 000 Belarussian Rubles equal one Euro.

The picture below shows a TV in the shop. I suspect it wasn't a recent model.

Along the way we saw a Memorial to WW2 (also known as the Great Patriotic War). This memorial was created by each citizen offering a handful of dirt to create the mound on which the memorial was built. Belarus was a nation of 8 million people in the WW2 that lost 2 million people.


At around 5.30pm we entered Minsk and were immediately surprised by the clean and green city that had a vibrancy and was clearly undergoing major construction. nearly all of Minsk was destroyed during the WW2.


We soon reached Victory Square and then crossed the Vistula River.

Victory Square
The Vistula River

The People's Congress venue for exhibitions.
A newly rebuilt Town Hall. This was destroyed during the WW2 so has been rebuilt to look as the original building.

Our hotel was built in what was the Jewish Ghetto prior to WW2. This monument was erected to represent the Jewish people on the march to their death.

The above photos show the Memorial to WW2.

Near our hotel there is the park and museum complex to remember Victory in WW2.

Tomorrow, we traverse the huge plains of Belarus and stop for lunch at Brest on the Polish frontier. Afterwards, we cross the River Vistula and arrive later in Warsaw,

Posted by Kangatraveller 11:19 Archived in Belarus Comments (0)

Moscow, RUSSIA

Moscow is the capital as well as the largest city with a population of 12 million people.

Today, Sunday, 31 August we travelled through picturesque villages to the Tver region. We passed through Klin, the former home of Tchaikovsky, to the Russian capital, Moscow.

Moscow is the capital city and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific center in Russia and in Eastern Europe. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has the largest number of billionaire residents in the world, has been ranked as the second most expensive city in the world by Mercer and is one of the world's largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and is also one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. Moscow is the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth, the second most populous city in Europe after Istanbul and the 8th largest city proper in the world, as well as the largest amongst high income economies. It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe; Mercury City Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Europe and the Moscow International Business Center. It is the largest city in Russia, with a population of 12 108 257 people (2014). By its territorial expansion on 1 July 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the capital increased its area 2.5 times; from about 1,000 square kilometers (390 sq mi) up to 2,511 square kilometers (970 sq mi), and gained an additional population of 233,000 people.

Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia making it the world's most populated inland city. The city is well known for its unique architecture which consists of many different historic buildings such as Saint Basil's Cathedral with its brightly colored domes. With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, it is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Soviet Union. Moscow is considered the center of Russian culture, having served as the home of prestigious Russian artists, scientists and sports figures during the course of its history and because of the presence of many different museums, academic and political institutions and theaters. Moscow is also the seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the residence of the Russian president. The Moscow Kremlin and the Red Square are also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in within the city.

The city is served by an extensive transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground metro systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, fourth largest in the world and largest outside of Asia in terms of passenger numbers. It is recognized as one of the city's landmarks due to the rich and varied architecture of its 194 stations.

We travelled on the M10 to Moscow and saw many depressing little places with much housing in need of repair.


Along the way there were many monuments to Russian soldiers, particularly, T34 Tanks, the main Russian tank in WW2.


Some places are easy to read the Cyrillic alphabet.


Soviet style old apartment blocks on the outskirts of Moscow. As we moved into the outer suburbs of Moscow, a city of 12 million, we saw many old Soviet style high rise in need of maintenance. the closer we drove into the city of Moscow proper there was a great deal of new development.

On Sunday night we rode the Metro. With it's 170 stations, the Metro carries 8 million people every day. We stopped at 7 or 8 stations the oldest built in 1935. The other beautiful Metro stations were built between 1952 and 1953. They were built by the Russians to show the might of the system. each station had a different theme associated with a region of Russia such as the Ukraine and Belarus.

Here are a few photos.


On Monday 1 September, we had a drive around Central Moscow and stopped for a few photo opportunities.

This is a photo of the KGB Headquarters on Lubjanka Square. The KGB is now called FSB and the building is undergoing a renovation.


St Basil's Cathedral has some beautiful domes.

A view of the Kremlin Wall. Kremlin simply means Fortress.

The old Parliament Building is now the Prime Minister's building.

Christ the Saviour Church. This is newly built as the original church was demolished in the Stalin years.

This building was one of the eight tall buildings ordered by Stalin and has now been turned into a luxury Hotel Radisson. Room rates of 1000 Euros a night up to 15000€ a night.


Statue of Field Marshall Zhukov, the hero commander of Soviet forces in World War 2.

Later in the day, we went to Red Square. The square was closed each night as it was the setting for a Military Tattoo involving 26 countries.

This is Colleen having successfully negotiating the police checks to get into Red Square.

Gateway into Red Square

The pictures below are of the GUM Department Centre. The building dates from 1893 and has continuously operated right through the Soviet era.


There were cars on display in the GUM centre. This vehicle is a Russian Zil limousine 1949.
Gorky Classic 1959

Red Square

A Russian band playing for the crowd in Red Square. It did look a little peculiar seeing soldiers in uniform playing some fairly lively music.

After Red Square we drove to the National Cemetery called New Maidens as it is named after the old Convent adjoining it. Many well known people are buried here. All of the ex Presidents of the USSR are buried in the Kremlin except for Nikita Kruschev and Boris Yeltsin.

This is the name of the Cemetery - New Maidens.

Boris Yeltsin's grave.

Grave of Raisa Gorbachev, wife if ex President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Nikita Kruschev's final resting place.


A well known Russian actor with the dog which was with him in a popular movie.


These two pictures are of a popular shopping walking street in Moscow - Arbat Street.

This Cathedral was completed in 2000. The original church was demolished in the Stalin era in 1944 and has been faithfully rebuilt.

In the afternoon we visited the Kremlin itself. As you can imagine there is very good security here.
Soldiers on guard


This building was formerly used by Lenin and Stalin as their residence. The dome with flag on the right side of the picture has the office of President Putin under the dome.
The largest cannon that has never fired.

Coronation Church in the Kremlin now a Museum was built in 1337.

This church has a staircase built on the other side with a window giving viewing access into the church. Tsar Ivan the Terrible had 8 wives all but one of whom died of unnatural causes. Under Russian Orthodox belief he can have a total of three wives and two divorces. As he exceeded this he was not allowed to attend church so he built a staircase and a window so he could see into the service.

View from the Kremlin over Moscow.

This is the outside of the building holding the Treasury of the Tsars. No photos were allowed inside. The items on display defy the imagination in opulence and they represent about 10% of the collection.

On Tuesday morning we set off for Minsk in Belarus some 700 Km driving distance.

Posted by Kangatraveller 10:59 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Novgorod, RUSSIA

The ancient city

Saturday 30 August, we set off a little later than normal - 9.20am for a short drive into what is now a satellite suburb of St Petersberg to Peterhof.

The Peterhof , Dutch for Peter's Court, is a series of palaces and gardens located in Saint Petersburg, Russia, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These Palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the "Russian Versailles". The palace-ensemble along with the city centre is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This was set up as the Summer Palace for Peter the Great. A small house was built on the shore of the Baltic as Peter was very interested in shipping and liked to watch the ships coming into St Petersberg.

The Fountain Park here is composed of public gardens and a smaller private garden for Peter the Great.


Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade. The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aquaduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source.

Several fountains are designed with the specific purpose of soaking visitors. Two take the form of gangly trees rigged with jets that activate when someone approaches. Another, disguised as an umbrella with a circular bench set around the stem, drops a curtain of water from its rim when someone enters to take a seat.

David was soaked by this fountain. Colleen very wisely took the detour.

This sign is self evident. Watch out for pickpockets when you are distracted by taking photos.

After this visit, we travelled further towards Novgorod and stopped at the Tsar's Palace. Within the Summer Palace set in a small town called The Tsar's Village. the opulence is beyond belief. The German Army occupied the palace as this was just behind their front lines in the Siege of Leningrad which went for nearly 900 days. Most of the Palace has been restored after parts were looted and bombed.

It was in 1730 that Rastrelli designed the first wooden palace for Empress Anna. This was a one-storied structure, with 28 rooms, a spacious central hall, and a system of interior waterways.

After Elizaveta Petrovna ascended the Russian throne in 1741, she commissioned Rastrelli to demolish the palace of her predecessor and build a "Venetian-style" residence for herself.

The new Summer Palace, completed in 1744, was the chief residence of Empress Elizabeth in the Russian capital. It was a large and imposing mauve-walled edifice with 160 gilded rooms, adjacent church and a fountain cascade. A Hermitage pavilion and an opera house were added to the compound in the 1750s.




The oldest town in Russia is Novgorod established in 759. Veliky Novgorod or just Novgorod, is one of the most important historic cities in Russia which serves as the administrative center of Novgorod Oblast. It is situated on the M10 federal highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. The city lies along the Volkhov River just downstream from its outflow from Lake Ilmen. UNESCO recognised Novgorod as a World Heritage Site in 1992. Population: 218,717 (2010 Census).

Novgorod is the birthplace of Rachmaninov, the famous composer. A building in the Kremlin is named in his honour.

At its peak during the 14th century, it was one of Europe's largest cities, with a reported population of 400 000. We crossed the Russian Steppes and saw abandoned state farms with some private homes close to the highway. We visited the Kremlin Fort, Millennium Monument and St. Sophia Cathedral.


On Sunday 31 August we had an early start as the morning was quite full on the way to Klin, the former home of Tchaikovsky, to the Russian capital, Moscow.

Posted by Kangatraveller 10:32 Comments (0)

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