The Hermitage was a must-see for us whilst in St Petersburg, especially as Vlad used to work there and could give us a guided tour. We were slightly concerned when he went off to buy tickets and only came back with one, but it turned out he was going to each booth in turn to buy tickets at Russian prices.
A lot of tourist attractions and museums have two prices, one for tourists and one for locals. I don’t really know how I feel about that. On the one hand, it’s good for locals to have access to places which they might not afford otherwise, but at the same time, I don’t really like having to pay more for things.
Eventually Vlad got four tickets together and gave us strict instructions not to speak and reveal our foreignness until we were through the ticket barrier.
A former residence of the tsars, and open to the public since 1852, the Hermitage is a stunning collection of buildings. When I wasn’t admiring the art, I found myself distracted by the opulence which surrounded me. It was very easy to imagine the Romanovs flouncing around the place.
Receive a guided tour from a friend was interesting on a couple of levels. Firstly, because we got to learn so much, but also because we got to see a different side to him. One minute we would just be chatting about nothing and then he would turn around in tour guide mode and explain all about the painting we were passing. We certainly felt the benefit of having a tour guide with us.
Vlad asked us beforehand if we would like to see anything in particular, because it would take days to see the whole museum. As we were happy with a more general tour, we managed to fit a lot into our morning here.
Hermitage on the Telly!
Have you heard about the film “Hermitage Revealed”? It’s a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of this Russian institution, delving into its history, as well as introducing some of the people who work there. It’s currently available on BBC iPlayer.
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Do you like to take a guided tour in a museum, or are you happier wandering?