So I'm back, I survived, I actually didn't freeze to death, which I can tell you, might have been a very real possibility had it not been for my magnificent purchases before leaving for Russia's frosty shores! I can wholeheartedly recommend St Petersburg to you all - despite it being the coldest place I have ever visited, it actually made for a beautiful sparkly experience! It also fully reinforces how totally crap we are in this country when it comes to the snow, and I can tell you, what we have land on us doesn't even compare! The roads are clear, somehow (terrifying Russian drivers) the cars don't slide into each other and the building temperatures are cosy! The architecture is stunning, the locals are (on the whole - nasty large lady at the ballet) delightful, the galleries are magnificent, the entertainment is breathtaking and the food was surprisingly delicious. The city is worth a visit. The students appear to have had a fine time - nothing to do with any Vodka of course - and the staff, aside from the odd stressful moment kicked back and let themselves become absorbed in the city.......
have a look.
The arrival - St. Petersburg airport - a very, very, very, long time spent at passport control!
Man with a horse!
Local street sign - just to prove I'm not making it up!
And as if by magic - the Church on the spilled blood appeared!
Crazy architecture - not sure I can take this very seriously!
Fetchiiiing protective footwear, strangely seems to suit Rob.....
I love the fact that a 10 Roubel note is only worth about 20p!
Frosty Mark - Charmian and Ivan, despite your protestations - I was right - he needed the down jacket!
And me? Why I need a freeze proof hat.......
One ice sculpture that wasn't going to melt in a hurry!
He just has to muscle in!
St Isaacs - better in than out...
200 stairs to one hell of a view!
The magnificent city - although would be greatly improved without the smoking chimneys....
Issy - willing Jenny to snap away quickly, -20, not for delicate souls!
A night at the opera - the wonderful Mariinsky theatre.
Don't you just love the gods?
Final bow - and Deborah and I only dozed off twice.... Shhhhh, don't tell Ivan!
Cool and the gang at the Hermitage.
Now that's an entrance!
My photo WILL be better than yours..
I would like to blame it on the copious layers of clothing - but I fear it is the onset of Forty - Aggghhh 1 week to go....
Hmmm - I thank my lucky stars that he isn't king!
Now here's a handsome fellow!
A new exhibit?
Well I did hear that those Russian wedding receptions can be a little boring - so why not pop into the Hermitage to kill some time?!
Back to the Mariinsky, this time though, no fat women singing, just a bunch of fabulous swans! Swan Lake - the posh seats, an over excited Deborah and Ivan (Mr Bicknell) and an evening to remember - happy early birthday me!
Final bow - marvellous!
The Russian museum - breathtaking art.
Mark tells me all about it - riveting....
Errr, almost, but maybe not quite - a valiant reenactment by Rowan and Freya!
Sorry - no cats allowed - but furry coats to die for!
The city aquarium - pretty spectacular!
It was only a matter of time - the damp, warm environment quickly sent Mark to sleep - ahh, sweet dreams Mr taylor!
The obligatory trip to the supermarket - this many different types of Vodka? That's just showing off!!!
Pushkinskaya 10 - non conformist art and a social scene....
The last evening - drinks at the Dostoevsky hotel and dinner in a fake train.......
Great cocktails and the view wasn't bad either....
What I won't miss about St. Petersburg however is the rather marvelous hat hair we have all had to endure!!
Err, is it me. or does Deborah look rather squiffy......?
Day Five and it's all over!
Two of our girls were desperate to go ice skating and with only hours before our flight and the very real fear of lost souls, Ivan and mark selflessly accompanied Lottie and Jess to Yelagin Island to visit the ice sculptures and the the rink, whilst Deborah and I a) fruitlessly tried to eject the tired bodies from their beds with a view to making the most of their last day and b) went on search for a blini and glass of fizz as a fitting way of saying goodbye to the city - easy you would think - nope! Not a blini in sight - so we settled for mediocre cake, coffee and a stroll, not the most exciting way to spend our last morning but we did visit local designer Tatiana Parfionova's fashion house, which made us feel like we had at least done something textiley!! Ms parfionova is the city's first home grown couturier - and certainly worth a look - her prices are well beyond our rubbish teacher salaries though!
The lady herself, not my photo though - I was far too scared of her to ask for one - this is from the fashion editor at large blog!
Lottie and Jess - skating heaven!
Ahh - You can take the boy out of the U.K. but you can't........
Can't see that getting you home Mark!
It is probably just as well that I didn't get to see this in person - as although the pictures you have seen of me might not necessarily confirm (!), I am a total class addict and this would have been almost impossible for me to ignore! How fabulous is this? Blimey the Russians are made of tough stuff aren't they! It is hard enough getting the brits to a normal indoor class, let alone one outside in sub-zero temperatures! Great photo Mr Bicknell - in fact all the really good pics in this posting are down to him! Well, YOU try holding a camera in your bare hands when it's minus 20!
Arnie - if you are reading this - LONDON WAS NOT COLD!