Tag Archives: St. Petersburg

Connected in time and space…part 15

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……..

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Connected in time and space…part 14

Anxious to explore St. Petersburg, we walk toward the Neva River on Nevsky Prospect, crossing over the Fontanka on Anichkov Bridge,


passing nameless buildings in need of attention and restoration,


as well as coming upon some of the most beautifully recognizable landmarks:

St. Isaac’s Cathedral



The Church on Spilled Blood


Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral


The Winter Palace / Hermitage


with its wondrous collection of art, and the current exhibition of the impressionist masterpieces being shown publicly for the first time since World War II

     –  we will explore here tomorrow  –


We return, with great anticipation, to the hotel in late afternoon to rest and dress for Rosalyn’s concert at the Philharmonia with festivities to follow later in the evening.  Unlocking the door to our room we find two envelopes pushed under the door…….


the first note reads:


why would she want us to call, when we have been instructed not to approach her before the performance????

the second envelope holds the explanation:


We are scheduled to leave St. Petersburg on the 8th,  with overnight in Stockholm, returning to Santa Barbara on July 9!!!

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Connected in time and space…part 13

Rosalyn Tureck’s performance, scheduled to be held in the Philharmonia, in St. Petersburg, July 5, 1995


as part of the annual White Nights Festival, an international arts festival held during the season of the midnight sun – May through July.


Arriving from the airport by taxi (a story in itself!!)


the first person emerging from the Nevsky Palace Hotel is Rosalyn.  Mindful of her admonition we do not approach, but she sees us…greeting us briefly with a hug before stepping into the car waiting to take her to rehearsal.

We settle in to our room and begin to plan for the next day. 


We have decided to breakfast early – an astounding buffet including of course the ever-present caviar.  We sit at the second floor window overlooking the Nevsky Prospect; the contrast between the opulence of the meal and the drab street scene with the ‘babushkas’ – little elderly ladies with brooms made of twigs, named for the scarves they all wear  – sweeping the gutters in this great city.


Returning to our room before setting out on foot – the taxi experience was harrowing and the public transportation crowded and antiquated –



a call from David:  Rosalyn has forgotten/misplaced her eyeshadow – would we please purchase brown eyeshadow, leaving it at the front desk before 1 pm.  We lay out our evening attire for the gala festivities ahead – afraid to send them out to be pressed – and make sure our tickets are secure.


Attempting to remain undaunted by this request/order, the hunt begins.  We ask for information about where we might purchase cosmetics at the front desk, but are unsure if we are understood, much less understanding the response.  Huge problem number one:  The Cyrillic alphabet gives no clue to even the root word on any sign of which there are very few.  Second problem:  there are no window displays of merchandise, even if you would happen to be in front of a store………..  Finally, on a side street some blocks from the hotel we find a tiny Nina Ricci boutique where we are able to make our purchase – $37 and change – we would have paid any price, so relieved are we to have been successful!!!!!!!!  The deadline approaches; we hurry back to the hotel, leave the package at the front desk, then set out to make the most of what remains of the afternoon………

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Connected in time and space…part 12

Arriving home from the Biltmore (see part 11), I break the news…………..!!!!!!!


Still absorbing the idea of a journey to Russia in less than six weeks, we set about planning our itinerary:

Santa Barbara – San Francisco – Seattle – Copenhagen (3 nights) – Stockholm – St. Petersburg  (4 nights) – Stockholm (1 night)

– Newark – Denver – Santa Barbara


We’ve enjoyed a great send-off from friends


and look forward to a few days in Copenhagen, before the final leg of the journey to St. Petersburg.


A drive north from Copenhagen, along the coast of Denmark closest to Sweden takes us to Rungsted, the hometown of author Karen Blixen, pen name Isak Dinesen.  The family home, her father’s 40 acre estate, Rungstedlund, is open to the public.

circa 1943





Karen Christenze Dinesen von Blixen-Finecke is buried on the estate.


While driving we are treated to idyllic scenery at every turn.


Cruising the canals in Copenhagen,


we came upon quirky houseboats,


and old waterfront warehouses, now luxurious condominiums.



In St. Petersburg, Rosalyn prefers that we stay at the Nevsky Palace Hotel where she will be….with the caveat:  if you see me prior to the concert, do not approach me – I go deep inside myself….’  With this directive in mind, we have scheduled our arrival for one day prior to the concert – we will be touching down in Russia on

the Fourth of July!!!!

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Connected in time and space…part 11

The Biltmore Santa Barbara………

(now the Four Seasons Biltmore)



In 1995, still quintessentially old Spanish luxe,





perched on the edge of the continent, at eye level with the Pacific.


Always de rigueur for cocktails, mixing locals and out-of-towners; offering a lounge with fireplace and seating to encourage conversation and conviviality.


On that Tuesday in late May, at the appointed time, under the chandelier hanging in the portal


through the entrance, down the steps into the lounge………..


………seated with Rosalyn, David and Hillary Hauser – a local journalist – drinks are ordered:

Rosalyn:  Virgin Mary – amended to Marguerita — Hilary:  Tequila – lots of lime — David:  Scotch and soda – amended to Scotch on the rocks — Susan:  Chardonnay – Sonoma

 In the midst of light conversation, Rosalyn abruptly turns to me, ‘I’d like to see the  pictures’, referring to my offer to bring pictures of George.  As David (dutifully) engages Hilary, Rosalyn and I peruse the pictures as she relates  (with much drama and gesturing with her petite hands) how she and George met, then fills in the months leading up to their marriage and his death so soon thereafter.

George proposed on New Year’s Eve 1963, in New York after dinner and the theatre, in Times Square as the ball dropped at midnight.’ Not feeling able to immediately give him an answer, she returned to London.  ‘He followed, took a flat around the corner from my home, pledging not to leave London until he had my answer.’  They were married in September of 1964 in London.  I put him on a plane at Heathrow in October to return to California where he was to sell his house and find one for us’……..she later saw it………a pink palace up on the hill in Pasadena’.  They were to have a pied-a-terre in New York and her home in London as well.  ‘We planned to rendezvous in New York for Thanksgiving.’  Instead she received an early morning phone call telling her that George had died the previous day, the eighth of November 1964.

As we continue to talk of George and our family, Rosalyn asks:  ‘Why don’t you come to my next concert, dahling?’  ‘I’d love to…where is it to be and when?’





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