The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is an amazing place. We don’t have time today for a full visit – one day, we’ll do that. It’ll be worth it. But for now, let’s just indulge a little local legend for your Thursday Travel Lagniappe.
The Hermitage in St. Petersburg
Originally the Winter Palace of the Romanov family in Russia – from Peter the Great to Nicholas II – the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is an immense, sprawling museum. The building is actually several buildings but there is no way to tell when you leave one and enter another. It boasts over 1000 rooms and they’re all huge – like a couple of thousand square feet, each. The whole thing covers several city blocks.
A couple of years ago while on a trip to Ghent and The Hague with some dear friends, we decided to hop on the train and take a quick trip to Lille, France, right across the border with Belgium. Come along with us for a bit of travel lagniappe, won’t you?
The architecture in Lille has a Flemish flair and, like most small towns in France, charm to spare. In fairness, though, Lille is not all that small. It’s the fifth largest urban area in France with over a million people living in the vicinity. The city, itself, claims nearly a quarter of that number. You can find some of the statistics here.
During Texas summers, the mercury challenges or shames the century mark every afternoon; even the mornings discourage more than a slow walk. Every year about this time, “Tell me again why we live here” becomes a common greeting.
Last year on a trip to Portland, Debra and I rented a car and drove over to Cannon Beach for a few days. It’s a glorious place, reminiscent of Big Sur but with an easier, more contemplative style. Haystack Rock, a massive chunk of stone, commands the shoreline at Canon Beach. In the picture below, it helped us welcome the sunrise during a barefoot stroll along the cool, damp sand. It’s a bit of lagniappe for your Thursday morning.
Here’s hoping that, wherever you are, your days are peaceful and pleasant. And if it seems too hot to breathe where you are? Well, just close your eyes and imagine that you’re some place else – like strolling past Haystack Rock at daybreak – where there’s a bit of a chill and the mist from the surf hangs in the morning glow.
It’s summer in Texas, so let’s head south – way south. Far enough south that summer becomes winter. We’ll trade the Texas heat for Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, sometimes called “the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere.” This is not by mistake. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the government of Argentina recruited many French architects and engineers to help transform the city. It’s a lovely place – large, diverse, energetic, and cosmopolitan. Many areas do, indeed, recall Paris. Let’s take a stroll through one of them – La Recoleta Cemetery.
The comparison to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is understandable, particularly if you’re looking for similarities. Both are relatively large, boasting tombs of many famous people. Both are architecturally interesting for the designs of their mausoleums. And both are navigated by means of cobblestone avenues rather than simple pathways. But beyond these parallels, they are quite different from one another.
At over 100 acres, Lachaise is almost eight times the size of La Recoleta and far more open. The passages are wider, there is space between the crypts. And it’s, well, French. It looks French and feels French.
If you read the post about Tallinn, you already know the story about how we took a trip based upon a waiter’s recommendation. On that trip, we spent several days in Riga, Latvia and encountered unexpected and spectacular Art Nouveau beauty – lots of it. Let’s take a look.
The Hotel Neiburgs is a great place to start. This is a close-up of the facade. It promises pretty great things. And delivers, by the way. If you go to Riga, consider staying here. We did and loved it – wonderful, old-world service with a modern flair, a great breakfast included in our package, and walking convenience. No regrets. Here are a couple more shots of the front of the hotel:
During a trip to Dublin a few years back, we flew over to Edinburgh for a few days. I fell in love with the place. We will go back and explore more of the country but we couldn’t have been more delighted with our experience in Edinburgh and vicinity.