I was in Europe in April once before. It was colder than I wanted it to be, but I have happy memories of the streets of Paris in the morning. The street sweepers washing and sweeping the sidewalks. The shopkeepers bidding bonjour to their customers. The fresh baguettes and big purple grapes inviting me to breakfast. Stepping into the fresh air from a night in the smoky hotel, mornings in Paris were wonderful.
Last Sunday morning in St. Petersburg was wonderful, too. It was cold again, but not as cold as I’d expected. My long grey coat was ample protection. The sites from my guidebook came to life. St. Isaac’s golden dome. The Winter Palace, not yet open, with guards on patrol. The Neva, still iced over in places, criss-crossed with pressure ridges. The stunning Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, posing patiently with a few early tourists like myself, as the street vendors set out their wares. Bustling Nevsky Prospekt, with St. Petrie tucked away in its courtyard.
As in Paris, Impressionists were my prime destination. Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre before. This time the warm halls of the Hermitage. Van Gogh and Renoir and Monet and Manet and others whose names were new. The brilliant colors in one, the sweet smile in another – these beautiful paintings are Europe to me.
Now, this Easter Sunday, another April morning in Europe, will remain with me too. The sun out, the air clean, few clouds in the sky. Tulips and daffodils blooming. The grass a green carpet, studded with dandelions and daisies. Walking quickly down to the church, the bells ringing their 33 times, assuring me that I am not late. And at last, ducking inside the 12th century chapel, decked out in her Easter finery, I am in my pew before the service begins.
Happy Easter. Happy Springtime. From Europe.
I loved St. Petersburg when we were there, my only regret is that we were with a tour at the Hermitage and there wasn’t nearly enuf time to see what I wanted to see. Maybe we’ll both have to go back some day.
We’ve just returned from Berlin and Prague and a week long river cruise between the two. It was lovely – really spring!
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