Saturday, October 8, 2016

Of Rasputin, Bill Clinton, and Nicholas Sarkozy at The Astoria in St. Petersburg

At The Astoria in St. Petersburg,
living a #Travelife

Of Rasputin, Bill Clinton, and Nicholas Sarkozy at The Astoria in St. Petersburg
This is a post about Rasputin, Bill Clinton, and Nicholas Sarkozy at The Astoria in St. Petersburg. So there we were at the Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, a Rocco Forte hotel, so happily living a #Travelife.

As a voracious reader of Russian history, I knew all about the glorious past of this hotel. It was the epicenter of social life in St. Petersburg during World War I, and many a dashing aristocrat and practically every young Grand Duke or Prince squired a beautiful lady to lunch or tea at the Winter Garden of the Astoria during their breaks, before heading back to the lines of war.

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THE LAST OF THE GOOD TIMES
FOR THE ARISTOCRATS


In a way, it was a little bit of normal in an uncertain world amidst depressing times for them. None of them imagined then how life would change forever in 1917. This was when Nicholas II abdicated and the Bolsheviks came to power after an initial but eventually futile attempt by moderate Russian reformists like Alexander Kerensky to fashion a new and not quite so radical government. 

The bar of The Astoria in St. Petersburg

But until then, ignorance was bliss, there was a belief that the war with Germany would be short, and The Astoria in St. Petersburg was always there to cheer the privileged up. Today, the Rocco Forte hotel group has restored it to its old grandeur so that it has become a story of Rasputin, Bill Clinton, and Nicholas Sarkozy at The Astoria in St. Petersburg. 


HISTORY IN THE ELEVATORS 

Well, the other day, we were just having fun in the elevators of The Astoria after a cozy lunch by the fireplace in the lobby, and on our way out to stroll to the Hermitage.



We were looking at the names of all the famous people who'd stayed there, engraved on brass plaques around the elevators. These included royalty, and everyone who is truly anyone in history -- from Putin, Bill Clinton and Sarkozy to Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Sting and Elton John. 

Then suddenly he took my hand, traced it to one particular plaque, and said: "Look. Rasputin has also stayed here."

Rasputin stayed at The Astoria in St. Petersburg.
Along with Nicholas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni,
and Bill Clinton

THE REAL STAR 

Wow. I had to look again and it was true.

The gruff and coarse man from Russian Siberia, partially responsible for bringing down Imperial Russia, had laid his head down here at The Astoria at least once. If not dozens of times before he'd been shot, bludgeoned and then dragged to the banks of the icy River Neva, where he'd been dropped into a hole in the river and left to die.

Of course we had to take this photo. Never mind the other famous names. This was the real headline grabber, in my never-ending #Travelife. ;)

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