And I mean gilded. Gold leaf (or paint?) EVERYWHERE. On domes, inside buildings, inside churches. The more gold the better.
When we went to Catherine's Palace, they told us that the statues on the outside of the palace were gilded. Today they're painted a golden color (not metallic, though) and the result was not quite right.
Rooms in the palaces were gilded. Huge urns filled inlaid tables--these urns were made of malachite or amber or jade. They were amazing.
In Catherine's Palace there was a room made entirely of amber. Walls, ceiling, art in frames. It fairly glowed and was so lovely. The original room was actually "lost" during WWII...the Russians say the Germans took it, I think it was probably destroyed by a bomb (amber doesn't deal well with heat, so if they "hid" it somewhere and it got hot...bye-bye lovely amber room).
The floors were inlaid to match the plastering detail of the ceilings in the Hermitage. It was amazing to look up, then down, then back up again.
Just a little history about SP. It was built by Peter the Great because he fell in love with Europe and wanted a capital to impress and compete with those of Europe...so he filled in a swamp, built canals to keep the river waters under control and then built gorgeous over-the-top buildings all over the city. It looks very European. Kind of a mix between Paris and Venice to my eye. But clean (not like Venice) and colorful (not like Paris).
Peter fell in love with Catherine who was a serving girl and ended up marrying her. They had a daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth was betrothed to Louis XIV, but he rejected her eventually because her mama wasn't blue-blooded and Elizabeth never seemed to get over it. So, she went over the top and created gilded everything that she could. She added onto palaces, acquired art, built buildings for the art (Catherine helped her out with that, though she did like quieter calmer looking spaces). The story goes that Elizabeth never wore a dress twice. Amazing to think about.
On a personal note, I'm more on a "regular" schedule in that I'm now working Tuesday to Saturday. It was weird being off yesterday and knowing that most other people were also off...and today, to go to the grocery when no one else was there...kind of cool.
Now, if you have some good suggestions for gluten free sponge cake I'm DYING for some strawberry shortcake. I bought the strawberries and whipped cream, but NEED the sponge cake. I may need to make a trip to the GF bakery or to Whole Foods tomorrow...