Having somewhat recovered from the initial shock of learning that we have traveled nearly six thousand miles to attend a concert that is now to take place on July 10, the day after our return home………..(see part 14),
I called Rosalyn. Arriving at her room, I find her much diminished, wrapped chin to toe in a down robe with an ice pack under her arm. In pain from being ‘brutalized by the masseuse’; distraught: ‘I have always been able to go on’. She seems lost in her robe and her misery. The Russian sun, which will not set, slants in through the sheer curtains pulled across the window. I make us each a cup of tea; we commiserate about her plight. Since David is busy seeing to the rearranging of schedules made necessary by the what has transpired, she asks that I retrieve a menu from each of the six restaurants in the hotel. She makes her dinner selection; I arrange, with some language difficulty, for delivery to her room, and at her request, sit with her while she eats.
Meanwhile, David has made contact asking us to meet him, along with Sergei, the translator assigned to Rosalyn, for cocktails in the hotel bar. We meet, decide to have dinner in the Bierstube in the hotel……………wonderful comfort food, the vodka flows freely………….fascinating conversation regarding the state of the Russian nation post USSR.
Although devastated by the rescheduling of Rosalyn’s concert, we are consoled by the anticipation of our visit to the Hermitage.
The following morning we set out, walking through the triumphal double arch, we see the Hermitage in the distance –
across the Palace Square, the Alexander Column – the tallest in the world – dwarfed by the monumentality of its surroundings.
The Hermitage – former Winter Palace of the tsars – is an incredibly impressive edifice – so hard to imagine that what lies within can compare to the building itself. Inconceivably, my imagination is outstripped by reality…….artifacts of all kinds, jewelry, porcelain. gilded furniture, coaches of the tsars,
the huge Rembrandt – Abraham with knife raised to obey God’s order to sacrifice his son Isaac, his hand stayed by an angel – made me weep
and again the massive canvas by Rembrandt – Return of the Prodigal Son – more tears
(Rembrandt images via the internet)
After having inquired at the ticket window about the Hidden Treasures – again the language barrier – we are still looking for the promised exhibit of the Impressionist masterpieces brought to the Soviet Union after World War II………. We’ve been sent up the Jordan Staircase,
my western mind expecting to find a high profile display – billed as a great revelation, another reminder of the Holocaust, an event in itself appealing to our sense of outrage and of the dramatic. We expect to stumble upon a well identified area containing the exhibit. We are sorely disappointed! Saturated by what we have seen, and frustrated by what we have not seen – we decide to move on……..