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Who knows why he’s winking?!


WITHIN FIFTY KILOMETERS south and west of St. Petersburg lie five tsarist estates. Most of them were devastated in World War II when the Nazis applied the loot-and-detonate strategy during the occupation. Restoration work began immediately after the war and the main palaces have largely been put back together again, though many secondary pieces still lie in ruins.

These places all make good day trips. Either you can do it yourself by public transport or hiring a car and driver or you can go with a tour group booked through a hotel service bureau. If lunch is not included it’s probably a good idea to bring your own as there may be little available there.

If you are not travelling by car, bus, or helicopter, the way to reach these destinations is by electric train (elektrichka). Petrodvorets and Lomonosov can also be reached by hydrofoil from May until September. Hydrofoils leave from the jetty in front of the Hermitage for Petrodvorets and from Naberezhnaya Makarova near the Tuchkov Bridge for Lomonosov as well as Petrodvorets. Lines can be long so go early. Buy your return ticket when you get to your destination lest they sell out leaving you to find your way to the nearest elektrichka station

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