August 18, 2002 - St. Petersburg and the Hermitage

The night train to Moscow goes out at 5 minutes before midnight just a short time from now. I am calling you at 10:30 pm on the 18th of august from our headquarters here in St. Petersburg, the 5 star hotel “Corinthia Nevskij Palace” .

The entire Berg Adventures team for the second Elbrus climb of the season is together. Today’s walking tour of St. Petersburg was wonderful. We visited the Hermitage, you may have heard its said of the number of displays in the Hermitage that if one spent one minute in front of each piece in the collection it would take 8 years to view everything. Not having that much time, we hit some highlights.

Every time I visit the Hermitage I see new things and something always makes a strong impression. We saw Van Gogh paintings, 2 of the 12 certified Leonardo da Vinci paintings and today I was struck by seeing the clock that was still stopped at the time on October 26, 1917 when the provisional government was arrested and Lenin’s soviet took power.

Later we visited St. Isaac Cathedral and when we walked down St. Isaac’s we were happy to meet up with Leila and Bob Burnett. Bob had our Air France adventure for this trip and was delayed one day in Paris, but he is with the group now and was even able to join us for much of our walking tour of St. Petersburg.

In the late afternoon we boarded a boat tour up the Neva river. We passed the Aurora, the vessel from which the shot that signaled the beginning of the revolution in 1917 was fired, further down the river we passed a stadium which was constructed for the 1980 Olympic Games. It is interesting to reflect in these times that these were the Olympics that US boycotted due to the Soviet Union involvement in a war in Afghanistan.

We said goodbye to our excellent tour guide Irena and tomorrow morning we will be in Moscow.

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Above: Comet Hale-Bopp over Mt. Elbrus from Pik Terskol, Caucasus, April '97. ©"Observers",