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We live in Russia, actually not just Russia but the Russian Empire, since we are a monarchy ruled by a Tsar-Emperor. The capital of the Russian Empire is the city of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. It was founded in 1702 by Tsar Peter the Great and it has been called a "Window on Europe" because it's Russia's main port to the West, and "Palmyra, Venice of the North" for the city's many canals. We mostly live about 16 miles outside of St. Petersburg in the town of Tsarskoe Selo, which means "Tsar's Village" in the Finnish language. Originally this area was inhabited mainly by Finns, but that was long ago. Tsarskoe is very beautiful and peaceful. It is much healthier to live here than in the city because the air and water are much cleaner. Mostly we love it because of the beautiful parks surrounding our home, the yellow and white Alexander Palace.
This is the Alexander Palace
We live in one side of the Alexander Palace, which isn't so big as palaces go in Russia, there are ONLY around 200 rooms! Our parents live downstairs on the main floor and we're upstairs with tutors, nurses, doctors and ladies-in-waiting. There are also classrooms, music rooms, playrooms, our own private dining and sitting rooms, as well as a private little movie theater for my brother. I share a bedroom with Maria, my sister, and my other two sisters, Olga and Tatiana share one next door. It's very cozy.
The most famous room in the palace is our mother's Mauve Room, go take a look at it. There's also a basement and an attic full of interesting things. We aren't allowed there, but we try to sneak in as often as possible. We even have our own tunnel which leads from the palace to the kitchen building.
The gardens are really huge and there's even a private island where we can haul up the bridges and be completely alone with the rabbits that live there. No adults are allowed with out permission from US. We have a small house on the island and cook our own meals outside on campfires. 'OUR' church, the Feodorovsky Imperial Cathedral is a short walk nearby.
This is the Feodorovsky Cathedral.
Sometimes we stay at the huge Winter Palace on the banks of the Neva River in St. Petersburg. We all hate it. The palace drafty and smells bad. It can be even dangerous to live there. My sister, Tatiana, and I BOTH got really sick drinking the water in the palace. You don't want to get sick like that, they cut off your hair and isolate you when you get it. Fortunately we hardly ever go there. When we have to make visits to the city we travel on our own private train from our own train station near the Alexander Palace. It only takes us around 10 or 15 minutes to reach the city, so we always go the city and back on the same day. My father also has a big collection of limousines and we get to travel in those a lot as well.
Our Yacht, the Standart
We have a number of palaces to stay in all over Russia, but we try to stay in our train whenever possible. It's much easier that way, we have our own special compartments on the train with our own beds and all our favorite things, so we don't have to unpack our things or hunt around for them in unfamiliar palaces. When we travel heaps of people go with us. It's really a bore to have so many useless people about getting in the way and making a fuss all the time. We take our dogs and cats with us when we travel, even on our boat, the Standart. Papa's parrot, Popov, comes too. Popov lives in papa's bathroom and you can hear his shrieks and squawks all over the palace, even on the second floor! He talks and says the funniest things. Popov belonged to grandfather and we all like him very much, he is quite a dear. We leave the fish and mice at home in the Alexander Palace to wait for our return. In the summer, before boarding the Standart for our annual cruise, we stay for several weeks at the Lower Palace right on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in the Alexandria Park next to Peterhof.
This is Spala
We used to go to our estates in Poland regularly when I was small. Father likes them very much because he is a hunter and there's a lot of game in the woods there. You should see Spala. It's a wooden palace, very dark and damp. In 1912 my brother had a bad accident at Spala and almost died. It was a terrible time for us all. Since then mother doesn't like to go there.
Here we are at Livadia!
One of our favorite palaces is Livadia on the coast of the Black Sea in the Crimea. Our father built a beautiful white villa on a cliff overlooking the sea. When we stay there we are always travelling around the countryside and visiting relatives in their nearby villas. The weather in the Crimea is very nice and we try to stay there for several months each year. Our rooms here are enormous and flooded with light, we sleep almost all the time with the windows open. Livadia is our own private estate, which means fewer servants, court officials and police running around all the time making a big production out of everything. THAT we like very much! In Petersburg we never go to shops and stores. It would be too difficult and people would make such a fuss. Storekeepers bring their things to the palace for us to pick from. Here in the Crimea we sometimes are able to go into real shops and actually buy things that we pick out ourselves. You wouldn't believe all the wonderful and tasty things from all over the world you can find here!
Shall I now tell you about my sisters and brother?