We slept in today, jet lagged, trying to catch all the rest we could before tonight’s performance at the Mariinsky. Kindly Natalia, the b&b owner, waited for us with a spread of bread, cheese, salami, jams made by her mother in Vologda out of berries grown by her father, and last but not least, oatmeal that smoothly slid down our throats and into our stomachs leaving a trace of delightful sweetness along the way and memories of the sensation to last all day.
The day started late but we needed our beauty sleep. After gobbling up the oatmeal with the jams, we took showers, trying to manage with puny towels allocated to us, and headed to pay homage to Peter the Horseman on the Neva, The Copper Horseman, wrongly translated as The Bronze Horseman.
As usual, St. Petersburg greeted his visitors with rain, intermittent, heavy at times, typical weather in this city built on swamps.
We walked down Sadovaya Street towards Nevsky, made the long-anticipated detour onto Zhelyabova Street (or is it Bolshaya Konnyushennaya now?) to indulge into my dearest soul food – pyshki, the very special doughnuts of St. Petersburg.
I had five, could have had more. Washed it down with the original coffee – diluted muck mixed with sweetened condensed milk. The coffee – sweet drink of my childhood, but mostly pyshki (oh pyshki!), when meeting my tongue and the surrounding area, caused a chemical reaction resulting in pure unadulterated bliss! I attest that the simple recipe had not changed since I was a little girl sporting a white nylon bow on top of my head.
Zhelyabova Street is all cleaned up and most of the buildings have been renovated. DLT, the department store my mother and I visited before or after indulging into pyshki, is no more. Real estate is prime on the street, and I keep my fingers crossed that the pyshki shop will not be forced out of this high rent area and will stay here for me for ever and ever.
Finally, leaving Zhelyabova, back to Nevsky, crossing the Palace Square, to the Palace Embankment, and onto the Decembrists’ Square, where the copper Peter is frozen in time reining in his spirited copper horse.
Peter was all cleaned up for the White Nights – his green coat of patina removed. Personally, I like him much better green- I wish they left him be patinated and forfeited the spring cleaning.
But our time with Peter was short and we rushed back to attend a performance of Swan Lake at the Mariinsky.
If you are going to see just one ballet at the Mariinsky, make it Swan Lake, the quintessential Russian ballet.
Just like pyshki, the Mariinsky has not changed in its appearance and the quality of the performances. The decor of this intimate theater is kept up, the dancers are superb, and the music sublime. The corps de ballet are simply divine.
Those two events (pyshki and ballet), one visceral and one spiritual, are what I love most about this city.