Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goodbye August

How lovely and delicate these flowers are and so is life.

August was a tough month - physically and emotionally, so I can't express how excited I am that it is coming to a close.

September for me means:
  • my first semester in grad school
  • healing and getting stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually
  • Labor Day long weekend
  • cooler mornings
  • hot cocoa days
  • wearing sweaters and knee-high socks
  • and soon, most probably playing with a new pup pup :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peterhof: The Capital Of Fountains

On our second day in St. Petersburg, we toured Peterhof, one of most famous ensembles, sometimes dubbed "the capital of fountains," a magical sight of water and gold, marble and bronze, magnificent paterres and age-old trees. (Source: Peterhof Guide Book) I was straining already from all the walking we did at Catherine's Palace, the Hermitage and a night show of Russian folk dances the day before, but once I saw how beautiful and inviting Peterhof was, I forgot how tired I felt and just snapped photos the entirety of our visit.

Although we didn't tour the interior of Peterhof, I think that the gardens and fountains are much more beautiful especially that the blue skies and warm weather framed the impressive palace and its enticing gardens and fountains.

The Cathedral of St. Apostles Peter and Paul. This cathedral is walking distance from the Peterhof Palace.

I love the well-trimmed gardens at the palace entrance.

Playful nymphs and fountains at the entrance pool.

For me, the Great Cascade is the highlight of this palace. From here, you can see the waters flow to join the Gulf of Finland. On the left, you can see the Trumpeting Tritons.

Gold statues shine underneath the Russian sun.

Peter I headed the construction of this palace and he launched the fountains to celebrate the end of the Northern War (1721). (Source: Peterhof Guide Book)

According to our tour guide, the Great Cascade is one of the biggest fountain ensembles in the world. It includes more than 60 fountains, more than 250 statues and reliefs. (Source: Peterhof Guide Book)

The Samson Fountain was placed in 1735 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Potava (1709). The water jet of the fountain, located at the mouth of the lion, is the highest in Peterhof, about 21 meters. Peter I wanted Heracles fighting a Hydra, but they decided on Samson Defeating the Lion instead. Why? Because the triumph of the Potava Battle took place on the memory day of Sampson the Hospitable, the namesake of the famous biblical hero. (Source: Peterhof Guide Book)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

LP: Piraso (to take a piece from)

Isang pirasong chocolate stick lang ang kailangan upang mapasarap ang isang tasang kape. Magkape muna tayo at kalimutan ang nangyaring lindol kahapon.

To heighten your coffee experience, all you need is to stir one piece of chocolate stick in your cup. Let's have coffee and try to forget yesterday's scary earthquake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


How beautiful it would be when this Everlasting flower blooms fully.

Monday, August 22, 2011

St. Petersburg: White Nights

During our two-day visit in St. Petersburg, we were lucky because we witnessed the Russian White Nights. This wasn't the first time I've experienced a phenomenon like this, as I've also experienced this during my three years living in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
White Nights, normally lasting from June 11th to July 2nd. The White Nights (Beliye Nochi) are a curious phenomenon caused by St. Petersburg's very northerly geographical location - at 59 degrees 57' North (roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska). St. Petersburg is the world's most northern city with a population over 1 million, and its stands at such a high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark. In fact night becomes curiously indistinguishable from day, so much so that the authorities never need to turn the city's streetlights on! (Source)
Just to show you how the White Nights were like at St. Petersburg, the photos below were taken between 10:30 PM to 12:00 AM.

In this photo, you can see that building (towards left) reflecting the sun's rays.

Since there was still daylight at night, we decided to have a White Night midnight snack at the ship's terrace. Hotdogs and lemonade.

That night, darkness never came.

Friday, August 19, 2011


This is outrageous!

What happened to good ol' sportsmanship?

Photo source is the Express (August 19, 2011). This basketball brawl is quite the talk of the town since the Hoyas are from the DC area.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Hermitage: Halls And Galleries

If Pushkin has a summer palace - Catherine's Palace, the heart of the Hermitage Complex is the Winter Palace. The Hermitage, which means "a place of solitude" in French is a former winter residence for Russia's monarchs. "The Hermitage is composed of the Winter Palace, Small, Large and New Hermitages, and they all form one of the most brilliant architectural ensembles in the center of St. Petersburg. The Hermitage Museum boasts of an extensive collection of art and culture from around the world." (Source: Hermitage Guide Book)

The collection of art here is amazing and for history and art lovers, this is a gold mine.

It was packed when we visited. There are some galleries in the Hermitage that are air conditioned and some are not. As it was summer, apart from the hot and humid weather add to that the crowded galleries so it felt suffocating. I've seen a couple of people who fainted and one has to be carried to a van.

The name of this room escapes me but I was sure glad there was room to breathe.

 The War Gallery of 1812 - a commemoration of Russia's victory over Napoleonic France.

The Palace Square.

 The Golden-Drawing Room - this is my favorite gallery.

Another view of the Golden-Drawing Room. The lady in green shirt was our tour guide.

 My blurry shot of the Raphael Loggias. According to my guide book, Catherine the Great commissioned copies of the famous frescoes by Raphael at the Vatican Palace.

 The Hall of Peter the Great and The Silver Throne of Empress Anna Loannovna.

 St. George Hall was used for official ceremonies and receptions.

The Alexander Room - built to memorialize Alexander I.

What I've seen during my visit was just a minute sample of the Hermitage's collection. This place is massive and according to our guide, you would have to walk 24 miles to see all the exhibits. I was exhausted after this visit. I'd love to do the Hermitage again possibly in the winter with less crowd and less tourists.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LP: Ginhawa (Comfortable, Cozy)

Napakaginhawa sigurong maidlip sa tabi ng kahoy na ito.

It must be so cozy to take a nap underneath this tree.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tsarskoye Selo: Other Rooms

In addition to the gilded rooms, we also toured different themed rooms in the palace. I think that if you like history, you'll enjoy looking at the portraits of royalty especially the Romanovs. I've only read about them in books, but looking at their photos and knowing that they once called Catherine's Palace their home makes me feel closer to history.

Portraits of Russia's historical leaders and royalty adorned this white painted room. In these photos are the Romanovs.

Portraits of Nicholas II and Alexandra Romanov.

More royalty portraits.

Portraits from ceiling to floor. This is called the Portrait Hall.

Visitors enjoying the Portrait Hall.

Other side of the Portrait Hall.

 One of the antique collections that caught my eye.

 The Green Dining Room.

This is the view when we exited the palace. When I took this photo, we were on our way to the pick up point since we lost sight of our tour group.

 This is the Amber Room, and this is the room that caught my interest the most. I think that most people who visit Catherine's Palace yearn to walk into this room; I did. When the palace was raided by Nazis, they took all the amber from this room and took them to Germany. This room is a product of careful reconstruction and since they're still searching for more amber, some portions of this room are still uncovered. Photography is not allowed, so I scanned this from the my St. Petersburg Guide Book.

A closer look at the amber. (Source: St. Petersburg Guide Book)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tsarskoye Selo: The Grand Hall

Catherine's Palace is huge. Without a tour guide, I could probably get lost in its beautiful rooms. 

Room after room, I found myself mesmerized with either the gold gilding or the antique collections they have displayed, each telling their stories, where they've been and how they found their way to the palace. Even the palace whispers her stories through its walls, its elegant draperies, its gilded candlesticks and its parquet floors. One story that caught my attention is how much of this palace is a result of present day restoration. The palace was bombed during the Nazi occupation therefore leaving most of the palace in ruins. Restoration experts have to build this palace from historical photos and paintings in order to restore it to its former glory and to get it to its grandeur today.

 Do remember that Russia came under Nazi invasion and at that time, a lot of the palace was bombed and destroyed. These two Cherubins are originals while the rest of the Grand Hall was restored by carefully looking at the photos and paintings from the archives.

 Gold and mirrors at the Grand Hall.

 The amazing Grand Hall. The floor is covered with wood parquet. If you've noticed, visitors must wear booties to protect the floor.

 Details of the gilded wall decorations.

An upward view of the room's intricate designs.

Booties to protect the palace's flooring.

Non-stop photography.

End of the Dining Hall and entering another grand room.