Baltic 6 | Russia

Welcome back to week three of our Baltic 6 series! If you’re new to Distinctivemode, Baltic 6 is a 6-part series that transports you to 6 Baltic destinations. Here you will find photographs, reviews and your very own tour guide! So far we have visited Norway and Poland. Today we are taking a trip to the height of the Baltics: St Petersburg!

Of all six destinations, Russia provided the most distinct experience. Having left Europe (or atleast the EU!) for a large, ex-communist city, I found my senses were bombarded with the unfamiliar. Despite not having visas, we were allowed to take a coach trip and walking excursion supervised by a tour guide and it was definitely an experience! Most buildings are square, the residential areas house cloned apartment blocks, the river is home to submarines, the highway something from a sci-fi movie and of course, the outskirts reveal what is left of the forest landscape.

_MG_2187

_MG_2190I spent two days in St. Petersburg due to its enormous 1439 square kilometre radius. On the first day we visited the Peterhoff Palace and Gardens which is lavished in gold both inside and out. The gardens are home to an abundance of fountains (including trick-fountains) and from the palace you can look out towards the gulf of Finland. A lot architecture in St.Petersburg is of the architect Rastrelli. In fact I have always admired Rastrelli’s colourful work and it was amazing to visit such buildings whilst also taking a look at the interiors!

After a 40 minute bus ride, we found ourselves back in the city centre. We stopped off at a government controlled souvenir shop selling Putin memorabilia and Russian dolls (yes it really was comical), which also kept offering free vodka (everyone declined). I think our tour guide found it just as strange since she kept trying to make jokes about the KGB…

_MG_2277

_MG_2334We then headed to the riverside and visited the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum, both also works by Rastrelli. Again everything came with typical gold detailing and lots of colour. The winter palace (once home to the Russian monarchs) is now combined with a complex of buildings to make up the State Hermitage Museum, an enormous collection of artwork. We spent about 3 hours there yet still only saw a glimpse of what was there. They had works from Da Vinci, to Rembrandt, Dyke and hundreds of other Russian, French, Italian, German, British artists. You could spend days in The Hermitage – it is an artist’s daydream!

_MG_2262What’s unique about The Hermitage is that not only does it house such a large collection of art, but it’s all displayed amongst the restored palace interiors. You walk through living quarters and chapels admiring both the decor and the masterpieces. Unfortunately though, the Russians don’t seem to care as much about the preservation of the art. When I visited, it was raining and most of the windows were open. The works weren’t shielded from the light either – it’s a disappointment to think that these famous works will fade due to not being cared for as much as they should be.
_MG_2301

_MG_2341

_MG_2385Finally on day two, despite the pouring rain we took a walking tour through the city centre towards the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. This church truly is magnificent. The orthodox built for the monarchy, is decorated with domes and lavished with mosaics inside. It’s built on the spot where Alexander II was murdered acting as a memorial, which led to the renaming from the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.

Being able to walk around the church and surrounding area was so great! Again the architecture didn’t fail to disappoint. I was able to taste the culture and city life a lot more to. Streets were busy, roads clogged, and everything was extremely high-pace. If I’m honest, I didn’t really like the atmosphere. The Russians working in the museums were rather strict and unfriendly, and everywhere you go you are bombarded with other non-visa tourist groups and are constantly on the look out for pick pockets.

IMG_2424IMG_2255 _MG_2396

St. Petersburg was an unforgettable experience to say the least! I left educated about the previous monarchy, the uprising, and general modern russian lifestyle. Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy the atmosphere and am unlikely to visit again, I am thankful to have been able to glimpse the world from a soviet perspective. Russia should certainly be on everybody’s bucket list!

Thank you for coming along with me this week! I wonder: where will next week’s edition take us?

Eleanor ♥

 

Baltic 6 | Poland

We are back again with our Baltic 6 tour. Last week we were in Norway and today we are headed to Gdansk in Poland. The centre of it’s main town was destroyed during the war but reconstructed after WW2, Gdansk is a scenic, historic old harbour town.

_MG_2072

_MG_2163Upon arriving we headed straight to the old town formerly known as Long Market and wandered through the streets. The houses are so colourful and it feels like you’re walking through a fairy tale. The streets are cobbled and historic houses are homes to cafes, boutiques and bars. The place is also home to Neptune’s fountain, made from bronze.

As you can see from the photographs, it’s the perfect place to spend your morning!

_MG_2095

_MG_2129We then headed to the Cathedral and climbed up the tower to view the city from above. Climbing the tower was an experience in itself – I have never climbed such a steep and narrow spiral staircase before in my life! I was really glad to reach the top! The view was incredible to. Even from so far up the colourful facades of buildings could still be seen. It was interesting to see the areas where construction is still continuing. I think it’s brilliant that the Polish are carefully and meticulously rebuilding the city to look how it used to instead of replacing their heritage with modern architecture.

 

After exploring we decided to stop in a little Polish cafe for a coffee. Polish coffee blew my expectations away! I ordered an espresso blended with agave and coconut milk and it was honestly one of the best drinks I’ve ever had. Since everything in Poland is ridiculously cheap, it didn’t cost a lot at all either!

_MG_2137

IMG_20170719_102529_890IMG_20170719_102529_891Whilst the majority of the city is being reconstructed in it’s old style, on the outskirts you can still find some very modern architecture being built. I can only imagine what it will look like as a city in the next ten years.

_MG_2122

_MG_2147 - CopyI absolutely loved Gdansk and it was such a relaxing day trip! The architecture is beautiful, everything is incredibly cheap and the place has a wonderful atmosphere. I had never thought of Poland as a travel destination before but my perspective has definitely changed. Who knows, one day I might go back for a little bit more!

_MG_2117

If you want a holiday on a budget, Gdansk is definitely the Baltic region for you!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Baltic 6. Come back this time next week for a trip to Russia!

Eleanor ♥

Baltic 6 | Norway

I’m back after a two week break and excited to be sharing a whole lot of creative posts with you! Over the past fortnight I have travelled across the Baltic sea, stopping off at a number of Scandinavian Countrries. Not only was this an eye-opener to the Scandinavian way of life but I was enriched with culture, architecture and spectacular views. I am extremely thankful to my parents for allowing me to come along on the cruise and celebate their 25th wedding anniversary with them…

Without further ado, I introduce you to the Baltic 6 – a series of photography posts from each of the 6 destinations: Norway; Poland; Russia; Finland; Sweden and Denmark. Every Wednesday we will tour another place! Today we are hitting Norway – sit back, relax and enjoy the views!

_MG_1822 _MG_1839
_MG_1872

Our Norwegian destination was Oslo – the country’s capital. Upon first setting foot here we took the tram out of the city, up to the Vigelandsparken sculpture park in a more residential area of Oslo. The journey was very scenic winding in and out of architectural buildings, up hills and past some very pretty, typical Norwegian homes. The park itself is the world’s biggest sculpture park made by one artist. It was great to walk around, enjoy the fountain view and explore the sculptures, that all seemed to depict humans wrestling with each other.
_MG_1876_MG_1913_MG_1910

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then headed back to the city centre and took a walk through the main square towards the palace and back again. I noticed that in Oslo the streets are very clean – there is little pollution (only electric cars are permitted) and no litter. It was beautiful.

_MG_1945_MG_1947Following this we visited the city hall – I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the beautiful interiors! The walls were lavished in marble, mosaics and paintings which brought the place to life. The first floor gave way to a vast open space where people could sit, walk, think, and simply be. It was exactly what a city hall should be. Upstairs there were more decadent, smaller rooms that looked out onto the harbour and even openings in the inner walls for peeking down onto the space below. It’s free to go in and I definitely recommend it if you’re ever in Oslo!

_MG_1945
_MG_2031_MG_2031_MG_2012Finally, we payed a visit to the Opera House designed by the Architect Snohetta. It opened in 2008 so is a reltively new piece of architecture and its modernity stands out. I think you’ll agree, the sharp angles combined with water reflections in the glass work make it look like some kind of scandinavian ski slope. Except it’s an opera house! I didn’t get chance to go in but I’m sure the acoustics are amazing.

In fact the roof of the building was designed so that people could walk up it and view the city from the top. It was quite a surreal experience to do this since I’m really interested in architecture that interacts with citizens.
_MG_1994I had the most amazing time in Norway and look forward to going back one day. However I have to say that due to citizens there being generally higher-paid, everything is very expensive! Thankfully we got away with just buying tram tickets and some snacks in a supermarket (which was extortionate at £25 for some crisps and biscuits) and I’d hate to know how much it would cost to stay overnight! Despite this, it’s a beautiful place and a must visit! _MG_2023Thank you for coming along with me! Is Norway somewhere you’d like to visit?

Eleanor ♥

P.S come back next Wednesday for our trip to Poland!

Pages: