Peter the Great’s Summer Palace


We made only one day trip out of central St. Petersburg—a 40 minute hydrofoil cruise to Peterhof, to Peter the Great’s Summer Palace. Describing it as a palace, however, dramatically undersells the amazing site. We were told that he palace, while very large and in a majestic setting, is dispensable. Indeed, after the Hermitage (not [Read more …]

St. Petersburg’s Food, Vodka and Hotel

St. Petersbury Restaurants When we were in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, the best food we could find was Pizza Hut. My how things have changed. And, as we were coming from Scandinavia, the food was refreshingly inexpensive. And this was all despite the fact that international economic sanctions have virtually eliminated food [Read more …]

Exploring St. Petersburg’s Other Museums


Mikhailovsky Palace Russian Museum While the Russian Museum consists of three large buildings (each a former palace), we visited two, including the Mikhailovsky Palace, the largest and the primary segment of the collection of Russian art from ancient times to the mid-20th century. It begins with a brief overview of pre-18th century art (especially religious [Read more …]

The Hermitage’s Modern Art Collection

General staff building 01

Like most visitors to St. Petersburg, we visited the main Hermitage Museum. But The Hermitage has multiple building and museums. On a separate day, we visited The Hermitage’s 19th and 20th century art collections, which are housed an almost as large, but decidedly less lavish building across the courtyard from the Palaces. The General Staff [Read more …]

The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia

Hernitage Museum entrance hall

Our most vivid memory of our last trip to St. Petersburg was the Hermitage Museum. It was just as impressive the second time around. The Hermitage Museum has a phenomenal collection of world art (with an overwhelming focus on Western European art) up through the 18th century. It is housed in an equally phenomenal set [Read more …]

St. Petersburg Russia’s Three Revolutions: A History Lesson

Tom had never been much of a student of Russian history. He can never remember which Alexander begot which Nicholas and vice versa. However, he did know that Russia in general, and St. Petersburg in particular, has seen much more than its share of war. It had centuries of territorial wars with countries ranging from [Read more …]

St. Petersburg Russia


The last time we were in Russia was during one of the most difficult periods in its post-Revolution history—a time when the country was in its deepest economic recession since the Great Depression and, as if this weren’t enough, at the exact same time when Mikhail Gorbachev had been kidnapped in an attempted coup. Although [Read more …]

Home Land Security: Art at the Presidio


San Francisco’s Presidio was built and had a long life as a fortress and army base that was intended to protect the region from attacks. Now, as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it houses a number of trails, museums and historic sites. These sites include Fort Winfield Scott, which once housed the [Read more …]

Porvoo Finland

cathedral 01

We took another day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo Finland. Initially settled in the 13th century, Porvoo rapidly developed as a port and was designated a city in 1380, the second settlement (after Turku) to be granted this status. By the 16th century, it was drawing the wrong type of attention, being sacked and burned [Read more …]

Exploring Turku Finland

Rettig Palace

From Helsinki, we did a day trip to explore Turku Finland–the oldest city in Finland. It can trace its roots of the Medieval section—and the original sections of the cathedral and castle—back to 1300. But, as happens in primarily wood-based cities, Turku has had several fires. The latest, in 1827, destroyed most of the earlier [Read more …]