Just a short boat ride away from St. Petersburg is Peterhof Palace, a creation of Peter the Great. Home to gorgeous gardens and some crazy beautiful fountains. When Shannon and I woke up to a bright sunny morning in St. Petersburg, we knew we had to make the trip.
Apparently you can also get to Peterhof via the metro, but the boat is faster and a bit nicer and we opted for that on the sunny day. Much like the rest of Russia, entrance to Peterhof involves multiple tickets.
We just bought the entrance ticket and headed into the gardens. The fountains really are amazing but after about an hour of walking around we had exhausted all the sights. Our next option was to buy a ticket for the remainder of the grounds or the main house.
All the lines were really long, and we were reluctant to wait, but finally we saw a shorter line and went to wait in it. When we got to the front of it, the ticket lady spoke only Russian and was pretty angry with us for only speaking English. She said “Grotto” “Grotto” and waved a ticket.
I honestly have no idea what a grotto is, but it sounded like a lovely place to be. Perhaps a nice garden or tree lined area. We decided to splurge and bought two tickets to the “Grotto”
Then of course we had no idea where to go.
We wandered around for a while trying to show our ticket to various people and eventually were put in line with a few other Russian people.
It soon became clear that we had bought tickets for an organized tour – In Russian. A tour of the “Grotto,” the inner workings of the Peterhof Fountains. In other words we had bought tickets for a tour of the Peterbof basement/ sewer…In Russian.
For the next hour we walked through the damp basement, with water dripping from the ceiling, as our tour guide pointed to various pipes and spoke in length in Russian. There was no garden involved.
I have the feeling the tour was really interested, as our fellow tour mates seemed enthralled. I’m sure it was obvious that we were totally out of place and only spoke English, but we attempted to seem like we were paying attention. Every once in a while the tour guide would pause and we would nod appreciatively to seem like we were part of the group.
I was a little concerned that our entire Peterhof experience would involved pipes and dark stone rooms, but then suddenly our tour guide opened a door and we were right in the heart of the sun filled fountain area.
It was really amazing. We were surrounded by golden statues and mist from the fountains. No one else, except our small tour, could come in where we were so we would get great up close photos.