ah, the crown jewel of St. Petersburg, in more ways than one. inside the Winter Palace (the main Hermitage building) is room after stunning room on the first (i.e., second) floor filled with antiques and fancy art, and then, upstairs, a vast collection of more art spanning all manner of genres, including all the big names from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
sidebar: some tips
- buy your ticket online. i got there a little after 10:30 (when it opened) and stood in line for half an hour, and it’s not even high season now. print your online voucher, exchange it for actual tickets at a booth inside the Palace Square entrance and bypass all lines to get in. don’t forget: closed on mondays.
- i gave up on my maps. plural. i did not have the patience to orient myself (trust me, i tried) and just started wandering. i knew what rooms i should hit thanks to my guidebook, but gave up on trying to plan a route.
- i paid 200 rubles for the photography sticker (saying you can take photos/videos)
but i don’t think they cared — everyone was taking pictures and i was the only chump with the yellow badge of dishonor. YMMV though — at least i felt important/entitled with it. i have been informed (thanks jeanne!) that they DO care, just randomly. get the sticker!
- yet again, foursquare to the rescue for a lunch place. located a short walk east is Кафе-бар «Чайки», a cute place with a skater indie hipster (see how many birds they put on it) vibe — and relatively cheap (and good) food. warning: cash only.