"" Writer's Wanderings: Russia -- Pies and Another Palace

Monday, August 17, 2009

Russia -- Pies and Another Palace

For lunch on our second day of touring St. Petersburg, our guide announced that we would have perogies for lunch. My mouth watered at the thought. I love the dumpling-like treats stuffed with mashed potatoes, cheese, and/or sauerkraut. We arrived at the restaurant, the Stolle, which was set into a basement area of a building. Wonderful smells aroused our tastebuds as we entered.

The menu was in Russian with English "subtitles." All sorts of fillings were available--salmon, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese. And then there was a list of sweet fillings--apple, cranberry, whortlberry, raspberry, apricot. . .the list went on. You could order a large portion or a small portion. We decided to order two large portions, one filled with chicken and one with apples and cinnamon and share.

When they arrived, it turned out they were nothing like the perogies I imagined. Actually, they were more like strudel or stollen. The menu at second glance translated to pies not perogies. Whatever they were called, they were absolutely delicious! We wished we could have gotten some to go.

One last palace was on our list for the day's adventure as well, the Yusupov Palace. I did not immediately catch the importance of this place. I'm afraid I was getting a little hazy from an overload of information from our intense two day tour. We entered what appeared from the outside to be a rather bland building for a palace. Just inside was a great staircase but still not as grand as others we had seen. Then we were led through a corridor on the side of the entrance and our guide began to explain the story of Rasputin's involvement with Nicholas II and the Royal Family in the early 20th century.

The story sounded a bit familiar but it still did not register with me until I saw the picture of Rasputin in one of the rooms. There was no denying that this was the "mad monk." Take a look at his picture here.

We walked through the rooms where the conspirators lured him and tried to poison him and then shot him. And then while he was still alive, they tossed his body into the Moika river. I think the official cause of death was drowning. Guess he was one tough cookie.

Our tour finished in the upstairs rooms that truly were palatial. One would have never guessed from the outside the beauty and elaborate furnishings on the inside. And the one feature of this palace that was truly special--the home theater.

The theater was truly that and is still used today for productions. It is quite popular and difficult to obtain tickets for performances. While it may not be the modern man's dream of a home theater, I'm sure it filled the dreams of the occupants of its day--the Yusopovs. They had quite a history and you can read more about them here.

Our day and our stay in St. Petersburg was rapidly drawing to an end but there were still two more stops to make--St. Peter and Paul Church and St. Isaac's.

More on St. Petersburg:
St. Petersburg
Catherine's Palace
Church on the Spilled Blood
Peterhof and the Metro
St. Isaac's and St. Peter and Paul

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