Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Elbrus: St Petersburg

Elbrus 2017  •  July 17

The top of Europe is in Russia, in the Caucasus, between the Caspian and Black Seas.

I’m climbing it with IMG, guided by Mike Hamill. I hope to complete my goal of climbing the Seven Summits before my 50th birthday. Let’s see how this goes.

First, we have to get there. Starting in St. Petersburg seems auspicious. I’ve never been here. It is beautiful.

The streets of St Petersburg are reminiscent of Paris.
Very Parisian.
We prepare for a fun day of seeing the sights.
Catherine the Great built this as a nunnery… then changed her mind when it was done. It was used instead as a concert hall for many years.
Fancy concert hall….
I love the pyramid and eye in this fresco.
Today it is being revived as a living church, as originally intended.
Lots of renovation happening inside.
Really? No roller blades… TWICE? Is this really necessary…?
This subway stop was built inside a church… as religion was banned in the Soviet era.
Some of the tickey counters were converted from confessionals.
Evidence of Soviet branding were everywhere.
100 meter deep stations accommodate the City’s many rivers.
Very impressive subway stops. The system was completed in 1955, I believe the year my father visited here with his family.
Lenin in the lead… Stalin over his shoulder.
This mosaic paints a happy portrait of Soviet life….
Outside the station, women sell wild fruit from the forest.
Dostoevsky.
Finery on the facade of a candy shop on Nevsky Prospect.
Crazy fun shop, full of amazing treats.
On the Neva River.
The Rostrums, memorializing naval victories.
Closeup of a Rostrum bowsprit.

A cathedral in the Fort.

Susan and Alison are having fun.
A lovely cathedral we entered, still in use.

Some traditions must adapt to keep up with the times.
Pete and Fred overlooking the river.
Ross contemplates the water.
John and the Neva.
Ravi and Steve.
“Griffon, Griffon, give me a million.”
The Spilled Blood Cathedral, memorializing the assassination of Alexander II.

Yep, the sun is coming out.

Beautiful surrounding gardens.
Double-Headed eagles are everywhere, symbol of the old Russian empire.

This sign may have been put up after an incident involving potato juice. Just a guess…
Palace Square. The column at center celebrates their victory over Napoleon. It is carved from a single piece of granite. Biggest on Earth.

Detail and precision of stunning quality on massive caryatids at the entry to the Hermitage.
Yes, that will be our boat. Yes, it is sketchy.
Very, very sketchy….
But totally fun and beautiful.
One of my favorite domes.
They sang happily under the bridges, with great acoustics.
I like this spire a lot, especially the top finial.
Pelican pulling down from its breast to feed blood to its young. Symbol of christ, and also the Pottinger symbol.
Over 300 bridges in the city. This one made of cast iron modules bolted together. about 3 inches of headroom.

Much too much to see in this fabulous city! I will have to come back with my beautiful family for a proper immersion. For now: Dinner, sleep, then a short tour again tomorrow before we head to the airport and fly to Mineral Vody, gateway to the Caucasus.

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