Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

Nostalgia in the Hermitage

I’ve been chatting back and forth in Russian with a coworker who speaks a little bit so Russia has been on my mind lately.  And recently I came across photos of my first ever trip overseas, my senior high school trip to Russia and Sweden with my school’s foreign language club.  We toured so many places in a short expanse of time: the Kremlin, Red Square, the Summer Palace, and one of my favorite spots – the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Being a naive 17 year old, I first thought from the name that The Hermitage was just that, a hermit’s retreat.  Not so!  The Hermitage is comparable to the Louvre in vastness and quality of displays.  It could easily take 5 days to see all the displays in the museum and it spans 6 buildings, including the Winter Palace once used by Russia’s tsars.  Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage in 1764.

I remember walking up to the entrance and there was a huge crowd formed in the courtyard.  We asked what was going on and learned that people had gathered for a graduation ceremony of Navy cadets.  There was music and marching and so much to see.  But time was short we had only day to explore this massive museum, so off we went.

A sense of sheer overwhelm swept over me when we entered the Hermitage.  I might as well hope to climb Everest as see everything the museum had to offer.  Even the ceilings of each room captured my attention with ornate murals highlighted in gold, chandeliers the size of a car, detailed depictions of epic battles and Biblical stories.  I couldn’t keep pace with all, let alone focus on the displays of Egyptian antiquities, Greek artifacts, fabulous jewels, and art by the likes of da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and El Greco, to name just a few.

There was a Knight Room with full suits of armor astride taxidermied and authentically saddled destriers.  There were rooms with Baroque art, Modern art, Russian art, Impressionist art (my favorite!), and so much more.  It was too much to take in, a deluge of the senses.  I could barely wrap my mind around standing in a place what these artifacts, these paintings were just out of arm’s reach.  History at my feet!  Knights in hulking suits of armor were a reality, I could look on the expression of The Madonna and see what da Vinci had strived to project in her features, and imagine Russian tsars and tsarinas passing by in the glittering carriages.

Overwhelming in every way, and humbling.


12 comments on “Nostalgia in the Hermitage

  1. ethelthedean
    September 26, 2012

    You nail it to a tee. The hermitage is completely nuts – a discombobulating, astounding place, of truly epic proportions. After I left I felt like my back was broken from standing and starting for the whole day. I think I read somewhere that it can only ever showcase ~10% of its pieces at any given time. It blows my mind!!!

    Beautiful photos 🙂 One day we will meet up and swap Russia stories!

    • Audrey
      October 4, 2012

      It’s huge, sheer overwhelm. I can’t image where they store the rest of their collection if they’ve only got such a small percentage on display. Craziness! I love that we’ve both been to these places, something about being able to talk about crazy Russian travels and have someone know exactly what you’re talking about. 🙂 Yes, we MUST meet up and chat travel in Russia, plus I’d love to pick your brain about the UK!

  2. whatimeant2say
    September 26, 2012

    I think the Hermitage is a bit of a metaphor for your life, my friend. So many memories are packed into your mind that I don’t think you could possibly ever share them all!

    • Audrey
      October 4, 2012

      I like that, the thought makes me smile! Lots of adventures and treasures tucked away. Thank you, lady!!

  3. Danny Breslin
    September 27, 2012

    I’ve seriously got to go there.

    • Audrey
      October 4, 2012

      Do, please!! It’s stunning, overwhelming, and mesmerizing. Well-worth it! Are you planning/dreaming up a trip any time soon?

  4. storiesbywilliams
    October 1, 2012

    Oh my God, this is amazing! Jealous! I recognized some of it too, awesome to see it was where I thought it was! Never been to St. Petersburg, but I did a lot of research on the city for some story.

    • Audrey
      October 4, 2012

      Sounds like you’ve done your research well then! I hope you can go to Petersburg some day, it’s one of my favorite cities. Modeled after Venice, it’s beautiful!

      • storiesbywilliams
        October 4, 2012

        Yeah, it was for the story Red Sky At Night, no less. The opening scene happens around the Alexander Column (is that the name?)

      • Audrey
        October 4, 2012

        It is! I’m the nerd that loves reading about places I’ve been to around the world, those mental images come together so much better. 🙂

  5. letstalkaboutlit
    October 22, 2012

    Wow! I MUST get there someday! Amazing!

    • Audrey
      October 29, 2012

      Oh yes, it’s a must for the travel list!

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