ST NICHOLAS CATHEDRAL
Russians seem to like Blue
St Petersburg, well nothing like we expected! I know I am going to bore you with photos and text but so hard to condense what we saw in just two days! Opulence, opulence! Glitz, gold and oozing money but we know there are very poor people here too! Did not know how we would go, booked a small private tour with a company who said they get Visa waivers but all good. The ship said all guests who do their tours get a visa waiver but all others have to get their own private visa before leaving Australia, again Princess is Princess trying to rip us, their tour was $1200 for two for two full days in St Petersburg and Alla Tours were $740 for the same and more sights and the more tours you book with Alla the more discount you get. We got through customs OK, rude though, absolutely no sense of humour! Denis and Carmel came with us on the Alla Tour, 8.30a.m. take off got back to ship at 7.40p.m., what a day, it was full on. Our tour guide was magic, just a beautiful girl full of knowledge…school teacher normally but does tour guiding during the
ST NICHOLAS CATHEDRAL
The bell tower, separate building
3 month summer break and has done this for 7 years, Polina (Paul)! I just can’t put into words how amazing St Petersburg is, the palaces, cathedrals are just so ridiculous!! Full of gold leaf, intricate mosaics, friezes, paintings – have not seen anything like this anywhere we have been. First off into the city centre, no wonder they call St Petersburg the Venice of the north – big canals all over town! First photo stop was St Isaacs Cathedral, then onto St Nicholas Church, Yusupov Palace, the former private residence of one of the richest families in Russia and where Gregory Rasputin was murdered, then travelled about 30klms outside St Petersburg to Catherine Palace, a very opulent baroque palace and is set on 1400 acres of spectacular gardens and parklands. On the way out to Catherine Palace, we were given a brunch bag, with a great beef brioche bun all enclosed, with an apple pie, apple juice and a chocy bar to recharge. Lots of wedding photos happening here a very popular local spot. Then back to St Petersburg to the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, my goodness these places are just spectacular! Then for lunch
at the Metropole an old icon restaurant in St Petersburg, on two levels and it was stunning with crystal chandeliers and the lunch was great served with a beer or wine, sodas were extra, get that! Dark beer was very nice Russian beer! After lunch to the Hermitage Museum which is part winter palace and part museum – we spent two and half hours there and Paul told us we took in about 15-20 percent of the all the buildings of the museum – absolutely incredible the works of art – not that we are much into art – but Rembrandt, Leonardo de Vinci etc etc, but all the different rooms of the palace just blew your mind away!
day St Petersburg, just as amazing! Another beautiful day 26 degrees and sunny, sunrise 3.44a.m. and sunset 10.32p.m. First off Paul wanted us to experience the Russian underground, 100 metres underground, so went down into the underground and caught a local train, what an eye opener this was, shame Melbourne! This underground was clean, efficient, fast and the most incredible mosaics and art down in here! At the other end our bus driver met us and we
were then taken down to Neva River the main river and onto a canal boat and had a tour of St Petersburg from the canals, a different perspective, so enjoyable! Onto Peter and Paul fortress, build to protect the city from attack; the ornate interior now boasts the tombs of many Tsars, including Peter the Great. Whilst there some special Cossacks came in for some special ceremony. Back on the bus and out to Peterhof Palace, which was a good hours drive out of St Petersburg, a UNESCO world heritage site, build by Peter the Great in the 18th
century, known as the “Russian Versailles”, very ornate palace overlooking the Gulf of Finland. A lot of these sites were damaged or part destroyed in World War II and have been renovated or redone since then. The Grand Cascade fountain was amazing surrounded by smaller fountains and the gardens and grounds were absolutely huge! Had lunch here in the Summer Palace, pinching ourselves this place is ridiculous! Walked down the long walkway to the beach area and caught a Hydrofoil back into the heart of St Petersburg where our bus driver met us. Then onto St Isaacs Cathedral for a look
inside, this is one of the largest in the world and covered with 220 pounds of gold, it was commissioned in 1818 and took more than three decades to complete. Well out visit to St Petersburg has come to an end, so glad we did the full on two day tour, was just the best and saw as much as we possibly could, great sail out of St Petersburg onto Tallin in Estonia tomorrow.
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