The reason I said ‘at last’ is that when I visited this city first time, I could not go there because I had too much vodka the night before the day I was supposed to visit there.
This huge museum consists of five buildings.
Our tour started with climbing up the “Jordan” staircase at the front, but after that I could not tell how we moved around as our guide Vlad took us around through the great numbers of tourists.
I thought it was a museum, but because it is housed in the Winter Palace, this half of our tour was to look at the palace rooms.
The interesting place for me was the Gallery of the Patriotic War of 1812.
This war was fought against Napoleon’s army and in this room there are more than 330 portraits of generals who did a good job during the war.
A British painter was chosen to paint the portraits because he could paint them very quickly.
Apparently he finished painting one portrait in 35 minutes.
Vlad said that probably apart from the faces, some pupils finished the paintings.
Also, we looked at a statue of a dog which resembled Putin, a portrait of Elizabeth of Russia who had 15,000 dresses and so on.
Another thing Vlad said was that there are 25 cats living in the Hermitage.
There was a huge vase made of malachite and he said “In the past the malachite was produced in the north of Kazakhstan, but not any more. The malachite souvenirs you see now are from Africa”.
When I visited Saint Petersburg about 13 years ago, there were many malachite necklaces sold everywhere as if they were cheap stuff.
I did not get attracted by them then and did not buy one, but thinking now, I should have bought a necklace with big stones then….
Then we saw the famous ‘Madonna Litta’ by Da Vinci and other paintings such as Rembrandt and El Greco as well as The Raphael Loggias which was made imitating Vatican Loggias, but I feel that we just glimpsed them through the gaps between one tourist and the other.
There were too many people!
Vlad told us that the number of visitors are increasing rapidly, which was 2.9m a year in 2012 and now it is about 5m.
I guess all the increased numbers were the people from one country.
Towards end of our tour, we were in the Egyptian room and there was a mummy there.
Vlad explained “He was a tourist two years ago, who lost in this museum where there are more than 1050 rooms”.
After the laughter died down, one tour member asked “how old is this?” and another tour member answered, “he said two years” and more laughter rose.