Craving, salivating and hankering. These are the major emotions and sensations that builds up when I had to control myself from entering the Winter Palace and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Though just a stone throw away from my hotel, I had to postpone my entry into the former winter residence of Catherine the Great as well as the world’s second largest art museum. I had to wait and properly time myself so that my entry would basically be FREE and complimentary. Thus, in the first few days of my stay in St. Petersburg, I was left to drool and gaze outside the magnificent palace.
I was lucky enough that my journey to St Petersburg, Russia fell on the 3rd week of the month. And very few tourists know that on every 3rd Thursday of each month, entrance to the Winter Palace and the Hermitage is free. Thus, I had to wait and postpone my visit for me to avail of the free entry.
And when the 3rd Thursday of the month arrived, I was one with the multitudes of people who patiently lined up so as to get inside the famous palace. And what is so amusing and amazing about my queuing and falling in line is that I was with the many locals who well-planned their visit. I guess only the locals knew about the free entrance.
I was unlike the usual and clueless tourist who paid for their expensive ticket online so as to cut through the queue and enter right away. Patient and unwearied locals lined-up were actually telling me (in broken English) to simply show my printed online ticket to the guard so that I can pass through and enter the palace right away. I simply smiled and told them that just like them, I am without a ticket.
And upon entry, you would really feel the true sophisticated Russian vibe. Its aristocracy, its grandness as well as the splendor of Russian elegance indeed resonates within the walls and exhibits of the Winter Palace and the Hermitage.
Here’s a glimpse of the free yet super grand Winter Palace & the Hermitage.