We had a terrific supper last night! We’d asked Denis, the concierge for a recommendation for an alternative to the beef-stroganoff type Russian food we’ve enjoyed the last couple of nights. His suggestion was ChaCha, a Georgian restaurant along the canal by the Church on the Spilled Blood. Great idea – my hero and I were in Georgia thirty years ago and remembered the food as being almost as distinctive as the red wine from the region. Secretly, we hoped the offering would be better than we remembered, for in those pre-Gorbachev days, the food was none too great.
Thankfully, ChaCha more than delivered and a series of shared plates just kept coming, each one full of the most delicious food, well cooked and extraordinarily tasty. The whole place was great – few tourists and mostly locals, I’d guess; there was a jolly and laid back atmosphere and the prices…well, let’s say it was about half the price of a similar meal at home.
As we left, the church was looking gorgeous.
Back on Nevsky Prospekt, the Kazan Cathedral was looking similarly good.
We were back there this morning, Palm Sunday, not especially to join in a service, but to stand with the people, to absorb the very special atmosphere and listen to the chants from the choir standing high above us. There is something rather emotional about being present in a Russian Orthodox service – somehow, in spite of all the comings and goings, the congregation manage to focus and I appreciated being able to slip in and out unnoticed. We noticed the ladies selling small bunches of pussywillow, sometimes wrapped together with a palm leaf outside the church this morning and as we walked around the city today, it seemed we were in the minority without one.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to make any accurate deduction about the numbers of churchgoers from that observation, but it would appear that the Russian Orthodox church is faring better in that respect than the Church of England right now.
Anyway, having made a couple of small purchases in the bookshop of Nevsky Prospekt, we walked down towards the Church on the Spilled Blood.
The souvenir stalls were all open for business but there were few customers about this morning.
Once inside, we stood back and took it all in again. No less stunning than the first time we were here, those mosaics are simply magnificent.
This time, I was as interested in observing the people as I was looking up at the ceiling.
Though of course, I couldn’t resist taking the odd photo or ten of small details I hadn’t noticed previously.
I loved the floral decoration of the icons here, in celebration of the day.
An hour or so later, we were done. We walked back along the canal, admiring the reflection in the water and noting how the temperature had risen in just the short time we’d been out. Another lovely Spring day!
We’d planned a quiet afternoon: a late lunch and then maybe a swim. Amy had booked manicures for the two of us and this evening, we have tickets for the opera at the Mariinsky Theatre. Tomorrow, we head home after a few very special, memorable days here.
But first, Prince Igor!