There are only a few things in my life that I’ve seen that are completely mind blowing. If I were to make a list of Ember’s Wonders of the World, Xilitla, Mexico would be number one and Petrodvortes would be number two. 

Alex and I made the trek outside of the city on a whim. Mike had to leave early in the morning for a trip to Finland and mentioned in passing that there was a cool palace with some fountains that we could check out if we had time. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, heck, I wasn’t even expecting that we would actually make it to the palace (the directions seemed a bit confusing) but since we had time to kill and were looking for adventure, we threw the Lonely Planet guidebook in the backpack and jumped the metro. 

My apprehensions about making it to Petrodvortes were soon pushed aside. We make a sign in Cyrillic that read, “Petrodvortes” and everything else was a piece of cake. Of course no one spoke English, but at least they could point us in the right direction. We caught a mini bus (yes another sketchy white van) and actually tried to argue with the driver about the price…according to the price listed in the guidebook, we were being overcharged. I suppose I will never know if I was taken advantage of for not being able to read Cyrillic. 

Anyway, we made it to the palace with no problems and spent several hours wandering around the grounds, and taking pictures of the most perfect autumn afternoon. A Russian tradition is to walk through the forest and gather stacks giant golden leaves. They make hats from them, take pictures and throw them up in the air. The scenery was beautiful, but watching the children and parents running between the trees and playing in the leaves was even more so. 

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