(Note: The first half of this post was written on Nov. 19)
Blue skies, a rare sight in Helsinki nowadays. But always a welcome one!
Blue skies! Would ya look at that. Now that winter is well on its way (but make no mistake , winter hasn’t arrived yet — despite the freezing temperatures), most days here are basically grey. Whether it’s rainy, windy, or snowy, you can always rely on it being grey. But whenever a bit of blue peeks through the clouds, you have to go enjoy it. And that’s exactly what I did today.
In all seriousness, with all of grey-ness and the earlier and earlier sunsets, it’s quite easy to forget just how beautiful of a city Helsinki can be when its sunny out. But days like today are perfect reminders. I was listening to George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” while walking around the city today, and one of the lyrics really hit me: “Daylight is good at arriving at the right time. It’s not always going to be this grey.” And today, it wasn’t!
It’s easy to see how beautiful Helsinki is when there’s just a bit of sunlight hitting it!
My time here is really speeding by, and I really wish it wouldn’t. Today, I did a bunch of planning for the rest of my time abroad and wow…I don’t have much time left. I found myself missing Helsinki and I’m still in the city! I’m going to be all over the place in the next few weeks, and I’ve started realizing that my time in the city is quickly coming to an end. What a sad realization to have. I know being home for Christmas will be great, but it will be very hard for me to leave this city and this country. I was thinking about this earlier, but Finland has become my home. And it’s never easy to say goodbye to your home.
(Note: This part on was written on November 28)
But to actually get to posting this thing! Catherine’s Palace, simply put, was one of the grandest, most extravagant places I’ve ever been to. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for me, but it was essentially a symbol of the wealth of the Russian tsars. And what a way to show it! Price was simply no object for the Russian tsars. And there was the Amber Room (you can read about that here) too, which was simply amazing. I’ve talked about the Palace at length already in my first post about Russia, and this is more or less supposed to be a sort of image dump for pictures from the palace. So there’s probably going to be fewer captions for this one and the metro tour posts (Note: I definitely put captions for everything still, so enjoy!). I just want to get these pictures up! It’s been too long (and I have too many other posts I need to write!).
Click on the pictures for a larger view.
The gates of Catherine’s Palace…
…and inside the gates!
The palace was absolutely massive
Lots of detail throughout the entire palace, but this was one of the main hallways
The main ballroom. It’s still available to rent out actually. Elton John held a concert here for a very small party not too long ago.
And of course, a picture of me with the gold
The gold above one of the doorways
One of the many decorative fireplaces. They were just for show though.
One of the five dining halls in Catherine’s Palace. That display on the table is actually a large sugar sculpture-art-thing. Apparently they were also made in the time of the Russian tsars. Guests could take back pieces of the confection to their children. This one’s just for show though. It was made in 2006.
Gold pillars, naturally
I don’t remember why I took this picture or what this room is, but it sure is nice!
Look at that gold for just one doorway. And every door was decorated like that!
One of the cupids in the palace. There was a “rising” and a “falling” cupid. The rising cupid symbolized Russia’s growing role in the world.
Another one of the dining rooms in the palace
That’s tin foil! Apparently it was very expensive when it was installed as there were no common tools for making such think sheets of metal
A paper replica of one of the Russian tsar’s wife’s dresses
The portrait room. The portraits are supposed be in the same layout on both ends of the room (but hint: they’re not)
Another lavishly decorated room. It speaks for itself, I think (also, I don’t know what it is).
One of the rooms decorated in Classical style. Also one of the five dining rooms. There were a few rooms decorated in this style, as the tsar’s son disagreed with his mother’s sense of style (and rejected her in almost every other way as well, if I remember correctly).
One of the tsars wore this! He sure was small.
Some of the remaining pieces of furniture after this room was destroyed during the war.
One of the original wood tiles from the same room. Yes, that is Mother of Pearl.
Just me and some flowers.
Russian hot dogs come inside(!) the bun.
Catherine Park, one of the two gardens on the palace grounds
Another look at the gardens
One of the many rows of trees in Catherine Garden. It must be beautiful in summer (when it’s not grey and miserable-looking!)
A small palace in the garden? I have no idea what this is.
A panoramic look at the garden (another one!)
The map of Catherine Garden (I took this picture so that I could remember which garden was which).
The gates of Alexander Park. The park is designed in a totally different style from Catherine Park (remember the mother-son issues I mentioned earlier?)
More Alexander Garden
One of the statues in Alexander Park
An abandoned building in the park. There was a dog guarding it, but I don’t know if that was official or not…
A hill in the garden…
…that I climbed…
…so I could take this picture!
Me on top of the aforementioned hill
I took this picture for my dad. If you look carefully, you can see a man fishing. Happy Thanksgiving dad!
The Alexander Park sign
Phew! One down, too many to go. I still have the metro post, St. Petersburg Day 3, Copenhagen, Tallinn (Estonia), and Lapland to put up. Well, I’m gonna get on that then. There may be a bit of out of order stuff…maybe. I don’t know yet. So I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned!
This picture is so funny if you’re Finnish. Or if you’re me.