With summer reappearing this week, we knew we needed to take advantage of the warm weather and venture out to one of the several major sights outside St. Petersburg. We decided on Tsarskoe Selo, which means "tsar's village" and housed the Russian imperial family as a country residence. You can read more about it here.
Our adventure began as we tried to follow our inadequate maps using our inadequate Russian to read the very few signs we came across. The "highlight" was that we actually made it to one of the entrances of Tsarskoe Selo on our first try - but as there was nothing obvious about it as an entrance to the estate we decided this wasn't it and ended up driving around the neighboring towns for another 40 minutes. The second time we came across the same entrance I made Terry stop so we could ask directions. Imagine our delight when I said I was looking for Tsarskoe Selo and the lady said "Здесь" (pronounced roughly: zdes, and means "here") I then looked at the sign on the gate and sure enough it said Ца́рское Село́.
The sight is an attraction not only for the palace but also the grounds. We had packed a picnic lunch and settled onto a bench shaded by trees overlooking a little creek. After lunch we wandered around, interspersed with sitting in grass or on benches and just enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and moments of relaxation. Because we had Alex with us, there was never an intention of going inside any of the buildings. Where we entered was comparatively unkempt and forest-y, as we came closer to the palace the grounds became more manicured and there were more statues, ornate bridges, and flowers.
Although we had planned to stay longer, the gray clouds, grumpy sleepyhead missing her nap, and our own lethargy dictated that we only spent about 3-4 hours on the grounds. The good news was that we missed dacha traffic on the way home, and grumpy sleepyhead not only fell asleep in the car on the way home, she made the transition back to bed seamlessly and let mom and dad take a mini nap too.
Is there a better way to spend a Sunday (minus the morning confusion, of course!)?