Still finding my feet, but growing in confidence daily, I galloped via Uber to Double B coffee. It’s really that good. Lapis lazuli skies and mild temperatures puts all of St Petersburg in charity with the world. The coffee shop is five minutes walk from the Hermitage, and everyone I pass is wearing shirt sleeves and smiling. I zip in the uncrowded entrance with my trusty Friends of the Hermitage card, and set off alarms. The unsmiling security guard glances in my bags and just as grim-faced, wave me on. I’d be glum too if the day was this beautiful and I was stuck inside frisking clueless tourists.
Bee-lined to the Greek and Roman statuary rooms, settled in to draw an enthroned Goddess. Ended up more fascinate by the young artist who set up in a little folding chair at her feet.
Ended up drawing the pair of them.
At 2-ish I ate my picnic of croissant and orange slices in the cafe area, did a bit of reading, (thanks for The Rogue Not Taken, Sarah MacLean!) and listened to Ludovico Einaudi on my iPod. Every now and then I stopped, looked around me, and thought how freaking lucky I am.
I went back to the Greeks and Roman, another room, and drew a nymph holding a shell of water. Behind her was a decapitated male head, a fragment of another sculpture. It put me in mind of Salome and John the Baptist.
I walked around the rooms before I settled in. I had fun sketching the boy on a dolphin in the guestbook open nearby for visitor comments. Mim Scala, this one’s for you.
Here’s a tip, y’all. They have a couple of magnificent sarcophagus, including one that tells the (tragic) story of Hippolytus, the son of Theseus.
The thing is, there’s a bit of space so you can theoretically see all four of the intricately carved sides, though it’s a squeeze – you can’t walk around it. But make the effort. The real action is on the back.
Around five o’clock I moved to the hall that ‘s near my exit and sketched this calm beauty holding a dove.
Walked out the door in a great mood and over to my dinner place of choice, Fruktovaya Lavka. Best meal yet.
The rumors of how hot it is in the Hermitage are not exaggerated. You could braise a turkey on the third floor. Wear short sleeves, even if it’s snowing.
No large tour groups slam through the traveling exhibits, because the guides have established routes through the famous works in the permanent collects. If you feel lonely, visit the da Vinci madonnas, the peacock clock room, or Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son. It’s a carnival of crazed selfies and frantic posing in groups.
When even paintings of gutted swine make me salivate, I’m hungry. Time to eat.
Hey China, who’s minding the store? Cause all y’all are here, swamping the museums in squadron-sized tour groups.
You want to crack the dour Russia lady guards, watch them interact with any small child or toddler. They melt like butter on a skillet. If you catch their eye and smile, you’re in.