In the fourth novel of the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series, All For Spilled Blood, Harriet Ruby, our tour director extraordinaire, and her fiancé and favorite spy, Will Talbot, are on a covert assignment in St. Petersburg,Russia.
Tsar Peter the Great created the city of St. Petersburgin 1703 to be as much like a European city as possible, so nothing there is really old, but wow! What a wonderful city! Take the trip with them and visit some of these incredible places.
Where Is St. Petersburg?
St. Petersburg, second largest city in Russia with a population of about 5 million, is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The northwestern part ofRussia that is inEurope. (Part ofRussia is inAsia.)
Venice of the North
I had heardSt. Petersburg called theVenice of the North, but I was surprised when I got there. The city is built on forty islands around a network of canals and rivers which are the main lifeblood of the city and contribute to its unique and romantic atmosphere. The islands are connected by 342 public bridges.
Harriet arrive in early May at the Pulkovo airport inSt. Petersburg.
When she needs to buy some sundry items she didn’t bring, she visits Gostiny Dvor, a huge and very expensive department store which is gradually becoming a shopping mall. It is renowned as the first shopping arcade in the world, and has the international reputation.
There you can shop for anything, such as a Russian Ushanka (hat with flaps over the ears), see a fashion show of the latest styles, or even shop at a supermarket.
The Church On Spilled Blood
When Will arrives a day later, he and Harriet visit some of the interesting places in the city, starting with the Church On Spilled Blood, a Russian-Revival style church, built between 1883 and 1907. We’ll go there first, because the name ties in with the title All for Spilled Blood as well as the story line.
Everyone questions the “on” in the name of the church, but that’s what it is and there’s a reason. It is constructed on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881 by a group of revolutionaries who threw a bomb at his royal carriage.
The church was closed in the 1930s when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed and under restoration for over 30 years and was finally re-opened as a museum in 1997.
Will and Harriet drop by Karan Cathedral on their adventures inSt. Petersburg. Constructed between 1801 and 1811, this cathedral was inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter’s inRome. It was closed to religious services in 1929. From 1932 it housed the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. In recent years, regular religious services had been restored, but it still shares the site with the museum from whose name the word “atheism” has now been omitted.
From the Karzan Cathedral, Will and Harriet walk alongGriboedovCanal, trying to locate the apartment building where Will lived as a child. [This super-gorgeous spy has a dark and very unusual background]. I know I didn’t take this photo, because that’s ice you see in the canal. During the winter, the canals freeze over. So does theNevaRiver.
While they are walking along the canal, Harriet wants to crossBankBridge, one of the world’s most beautiful pedestrian bridges, and see, up close and personal, the statues of golden-winged griffons sculpted by famous local sculptor Pavel Sokolov.
Apartment Block where Dostoevsky Lived
They do find the apartment complex where Will lived as a child. The building is actually where Dostoevsky lived when he wrote Notes From the House of the Dead in 1861. I’m not sure if this structure is part of the Dostoevsky Museum, because the author lived in several different locations in St. Petersburg.
The Hermitage Museum
And, of course, Harriet takes her tourists to theHermitageMuseum…a must see inRussia. One author writes that “With the possible exception of the Louvre, there is no museum in the world that rivals the Hermitage in size and quality. Its collection is so large that it would take years to view it in its entirety–at last count, there were nearly three million works on exhibit.”
It was originally constructed as the imperialWinterPalacein 1754 through 1762, and was the main residence of the Russian Emperor.
May Day Celebration / Victory Parade
Russians celebrate the first week in May, starting with the May 1 (Labor Day) and ending with the Victory Day on May 9, one of the most important holidays inRussia. The Russian people commemorate their countrymen fallen in World War II. The date marks the surrender of Nazi Germany to theSoviet Union in the Second World War.
Harriet and Will are inSt. Petersburgover the first week in May. In fact, much of the action takes place on the day of the Victory Day parade at the end of the week’s festivities. It can get rowdy, and there were plenty of police around, but they don’t see any action in the novel and no parading policewomen. It did rain, though.
I hope you had fun traveling with Harriet and Will inSt. Petersburg. My advice: Don’t travel there in the winter.
R. ANN SIRACUSA is involved in many activities, but her two passions are foreign travel and writing fiction. This talented author combines those loves into novels that transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue and foreign cultures, and make them laugh.
After receiving a degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley, Ann traveled toRome,Italy, where she worked for an Italian architecture and urban planning firm. She married the Sicilian policeman she met at the Fountain of Love on her first day there. When she and her husband returned to theUnited States, they settled down to career and family. But the travel bug never left her. While working for thirty-seven years in her chosen career, Ann made time to travel and began to write fiction that incorporated many of her experiences and observations.
Today, she is retired inSan Diego,California, and writes full time. Her first novel was published in 2008, and since then eight additional works have been published by Sapphire Blue Publishing. All For Spilled Blood is the ninth.
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