For my rest of my trip to Russia I was going to fly from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.
It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with 5 million inhabitants.
Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703.
The historic centre of Saint Petersburg constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments – obviously I was not going to see all of them.
Saint Petersburg is also home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great in 1764 and been opened to the public since 1852.
The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.
Its collections comprise over three million items including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
Next on my sightseeing was the Church of the Savior on Blood. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.
The Church is situated along the Griboedov Canal.
Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907.
The church never functioned as a public place of worship, having been dedicated to the memory of the assassinated tsar. The church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics.
During the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted. During WW2 the church suffered significant damage. It has now been restored.
The next day I was going visit the sites of the Russian Revolution.
To be continued….
For more information about Russia please visit:
For my second day in Moscow I was going to visit the Novodevichy Convent. This convent remained virtually intact since the 17th century and so in 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasily III to celebrate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians.
The convent was built as a fortress at a curve of the Moskva River.
The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk.
Extant documents date its construction to 1524–1525. Most scholars agree that the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s.
In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed down the convent but the nuns returned in 1994.
The domes were added a century after the cathedral construction.
In 1812, Napoleon’s army made an attempt to blow up the convent, but the nuns saved the convent from destruction.
Other buildings of note includes the red and white Church of the Assumption and the neighboring refectory, the soaring bell-tower and the north and south gate churches.
The bell-tower was built to a height of 72 metres (236 ft), making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Kremlin).
The convent is also famous for its cemetery, which is the final resting place for a number of Russian cultural and political figures, including Chekhov and Shostakovich.
The cemetery was designed by Ivan Mashkov and inaugurated in 1898.
Famous Russians buried here includes Borris Yeltsin (1931-2007). The first post Soviet era president.
Boris Yeltsin was the first freely elected President of Russia serving 1991 to 1999. He voluntarily resigned from the post in 1999, leaving the job to Putin.
After visting the convent and the cemetery I went for a walk in the park outside the convent. It was a clear sunny day but the lake was still frozen from the winter.
After my sightseeing I was scheduled to meet president Putin for the second round of talks in the peace confernece that I was hosting over the Ukraine crisis. After the poor start to my first meeting with the president in which he poured a jug of water over me, I decided that I need to be more diplomatic for the second round of talks. Before I flew out to Russia, my auntie gave me a tin of homemade cookies. Mmmmm….. so what if I give president Putin the homemade cookies? Maybe he would more opening with peace discussions.
So anyway, I arrived at the Kremlin (via the back door) and the peace talks began. Putin was very impressed by my auntie’s homemade cookies and he offered me a vodka. We began talking on the serious matter at hand that is the Ukraine and the Crimea crisis. President Putin said that he was not going to change his stance to a cuddly toy negotiator. Oh well…. maybe better success tomorrow with the peace talks.
To be continued….
For more information about Russia please visit:
Today, I was leaving Dubrovnik for a daytrip to Kotor just across the border in Montenegro. I was going on a tour minibus with a guide named Pauevnic Roaiski.
Montenegro is a former Yugoslavia state and it has a coast on the Adriatic Sea and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica, while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica, meaning the former Royal Capital City. It became independent of Yugoslavia on 2006. It is a small country with a population of just 625,000 people.
The tour bus cost 40 Euros and our guide was very knowledgeable. It is a two and a half hours drive to Kotor – a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.
The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. It is located on the Bay of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. Some have called the southern-most fjord in Europe, but it is a ria, a submerged river canyon. Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape.
In recent years, Kotor has become very touristy due to day trippers from Dubrovnik.
As my guide said, some 90% of tourists are from either cruise ships or day tours from Croatia.
In World War I, Kotor was one of three main bases of the Austro-Hungarian Navy.
The Old Town has been fortified many times over the years.
Kotor was first recorded in 168 BC as a Roman settlement.
Kotor is part of the World Heritage Site dubbed the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor.
In 1979 a earthquake destroyed many buildings in the Old Town. It has since been rebuilt.
Kotor’s Old Town has many churches.
After sighting around Kotor, the tour minibus headed off to the coastal town of Budva. This town has a charming old town fortifications and a nice harbour.
Budva is 3,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Sea coast.
I went to the beach next to the fort for some sunbathing.
Many Russians come here for their holidays. Many Russian girls in sexy bikinis were on the beach and I liked that!
As the sun went down, I went to the harbour to admire the luxury yachts of the Russian rich.
I headed back to Dubrovnik for some ice cream and girls.
To be continued….
For more information about Kotor please visit:
Today I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and into Sweden to the city of Malmö.
The Øresund Bridge links Denmark to Sweden and was opened in 2000. It is a dual railway/road bridge and is almost 5 miles in length with a 2.5 mile tunnel preceding the bridge from the Danish side. It only cost 78 DKK (approx. 9 Euros) to cross the bridge by train.
The journey time from Copenhagen to Malmö is approximately half an hour.
My day trip to Sweden was to visit the city of Malmö. This is the third largest city in Sweden and the most southernmost city in Sweden.
In recent years, Malmö has become known for it rape crime wave and has earnt the reputation of the rape capital of Europe. A sad reflection on the failings of modern politicians. Putting this aside, Malmö centre has a number of interesting historic buildings and a castle from a time when this part of Sweden was part of Denmark.
My visit to Malmö was to start in the city centre in the square.
Near the square is St Petri (The Church of Saint Peter). It is a Gothic style in which construction started in 1319. It has a 105 metre tall tower.
After seeing the church, I was off to Willys supermarket to get my sandwiches. I like Willys.
Malmö is the host for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. This is the yearly contest to find Europe’s worst song and then promote the song in as a song of European unity. The contest is a mismatch of awful singers who had past their time many years ago (or in some cases decades ago).
I was walking around the historic centre of Malmö.
Near the centre of Malmö is the castle.
The castle is now a museum.
The castle is near the city park.
It was getting late on the afternoon. I was wearing my newly knitted daisy wooly hat.
I was off to the harbour for the sunset.
The harbour is a major port for Scandinavian shipping.
After visiting the harbour, I watched the sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso tower in the background. The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden.
For more information about Malmö please visit:
On my second day in Copenhagen, I was going to see the sights of the city paying attention to the architecture of the buildings. My walk around Copenhagen started at the fort of Kastellet near the waterfront. The fort is close to the Little Mermaid. The fort is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners.
The fort is still as an active military area that belongs to the Danish Defence Ministry, however members of the public can walk around the fort grounds. It is a popular site for joggers.
At the southwest corner of the fort is a rather charming windmill.
Near the entrance of Kastellet is a rather charming St. Alban’s Church surrounded by a frozen lake.
I ate my sandwiches here.
After having my sandwiches, I farted alot and then went to the waterfront.
Heading towards the City Hall, I walked down the Strøget which is the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe.
The round tower (Rundetårn) was a 17th-century tower built as an astronomical observatory.
The tower does not have stairs instead a 7.5 turn spiral ramp forms the only access to the towertop observatory.
Every year in spring, a unicycle race is held and the contestants have to go up and down the tower. The record is 1 minute and 48.7 seconds.
The tower still had it orginal toilets!
I think the toilet tips out onto the street below.
The view from the top is great.
Continuing my walk, I came across great architecture.
The west end of Strøget at The City Hall Square is a short walking distance from Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s Central Train Station.
I decided to walk over to the artificial island of Christianshavn.
Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood which has established semi-legal status as an independent community as a “city within the city”. Photography is against the rules here as too many drug dealers deal their junk here.
Near Christiania is the The Church of Our Saviour and it is famous for it corkscrew spire.
After visiting the island of Christianshavn, my wee cotton feet was sore, so I headed back to the hotel.
On my way back to the hotel, I saw a statue of a man urinating against the wall.
Tomorrow, I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and visit Sweden for the day.
To be continued….
For more information about Copenhagen please visit:
Having recovered from my infected foot injury I was ready to continue sightseeing around Gozo.
At breakfast I was going over the “holy” lonely planet guide book to see where I could go today.
First on my sightseeing trip was to see the Inland Sea. The Inland Sea is a lagoon of seawater linked to the sea through an opening formed by a narrow natural arch.
Also near the Inland Sea is the Azure Windowis a natural arch featuring a table-like rock over the sea.
In the foreground of this photograph is the Blue Hole, a famous dive site on the Island of Gozo.
Last April a large part of the window fell off and made the window larger, more unstable and losing its almost perfect oblong shape. The Maltese authorities expects the window to completely crumble away soon and thus they had already got a name planned for the new rock feature when this does happens. It will be called the Azure Pinnacle.
The window is a popular cliff jumping platform for the stupid. This youtube clip is one such idiot (but funny):
The shores around the Azure Window are known for it fossils.
It is illegal to take any fossils from the beaches in Gozo.
The Azure Window comes with it own set of toilets.
Around Gozo were many watchtowers. The towers were built by the Knights of St John to serve as a communication system for the knights as they provided a 360-degree view of the surrounding waters.
Another natural landmark near the Azure Window is Dwejra Bay with it 80 metre high sea cliffs.
It was 4pm and the the air tempertaure was starting to go down. I decided to go on a 10km countryside walk around the north coast of Gozo.
I started the walk in the town of Għarb in the north of Gozo.
Near the start of the walk was the Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu which is a Roman Catholic parish church and minor basilica located some 700 metres (2,300 ft) away from the village of Għarb. The church is dedicated to Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu.
Pope John Paul II celebrated mass here in May 1990. In April 2010, Pope Benedict XVI came here to place a er…. um…. *ahem* a rose at the front of the devotional image of Our Lady Of Ta’ Pinu whatever….
The walk took me along several vine farms.
Northern Gozo is very quieter than the rest of Gozo.
For a small island, Gozo has many churchs(46 in all) and numerous smaller chapels.
I kept walking untill sunset.
After my day sighting, I was eager to go to bed early as it was June 24th a.k.a Christmas 2 Eve. Christmas 2 is a the summer version of Christmas celebrated on June the 25th. Six months after December 25th. It is celebrated in June because the people of Europe are fed up having to celebrate Christmas in the middle of winter when it is tooooo bloody cold to celebrate anything. So, we moved Christmas to June and called it Christmas 2.
N.B. People from Australia please don’t move Christmas to June or you will have a miserable cold Christmas as well! Stick to December 25th.
I set up a hidden camera in the living room hoping to get a glimpse of Santa delivering my presents.
The next morning was Christmas 2 Day and I put on my Santa costume.
I then got drunk and tried to pull some Maltese girls.
With the celebrations over, I vomitted over my Auntie’s bed and crashed out.
The next morning I was going over to the Island of Malta for sightseeing.
To be continued….
For more information on sightseeing around Gozo please visit:
Today I was going to see the countryside on what is known as the Golden Circle Classic Tour.
The tour includes a visit to Thingvellir National Park – the site of the oldest existing parliament in the world. Then was going to see the Gullfoss, Iceland’s famous waterfall and finally to the Geysir area, a geothermal field where hot springs are in abundance, geysers explode and pools of mud bubble.
My first stop of the tour was to see Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir). This is the site of the oldest existing parliament in the world and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the where the continential plates of America and Europe meet.
Lava is seen here that had set into the landscape.
I was enjoying the day out.
Next I went to Gulloss the waterfall.
Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
After the waterfall I was off to the Geysir area. Due to the high rate of volcanic activity in Iceland, it is home to some of the greatest geysers in the world.
Geysers and hot springs that erupts into jets of hot water and steam.
The Great Geysir which first erupted in the 14th century, gave rise to the word geyser but this geyser rarely erupts these days.
The nearby Strokkur geyser erupts every 5 to 8 minutes to a height of some 30 metres.
The eruptions are every 5 to 8 minutes.
After seeing the geysers, I went to see the inactive Kerið volcano crater.
This volcano has not errupted for 3000 years.
After seeing the volcano, I went to the church at Skálholt.
The church at Skálholt is relatively large in comparison to most Icelandic churches.
I headed back to Reykjavík to check out the Icelandic girls in the nightclubs.
To be continued….
For more information about Iceland please visit: