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September 5th 2011
Published: September 5th 2011
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FLIGHTS:
Movie selections were pretty good so the first flight YVR TO Montreal went fairly quickly. No food except what we’d brought or wanted to buy onboard.
Beautiful sunrise – firey red fuschia streaks with clouds accented in gold. The land below was still in darkness and I could see the city lights as we flew over Brussels.
Connections were made on time and baggage arrived in good shape. I even managed to get 2 thirty min. naps during the last 22 hours and that was after a 1 ½ sleep the night before leaving.
In St. Petersburg
The ship- Viking Surkov – is comfortable and clean with very friendly staff. We spent the rest of the day checking out the ship, orientation talk, dinner and then did a pre-bed walk on the waterfront. Bed at 9:30
Sunday, Sep 4
I woke at 4 am and decided to get up and after doing 10 Suduko puzzles. I got dressed and went up to the 24 hour coffee station to find a place to read. After a couple of cappuccinos Dan came out and did Crossword puzzles and drank espressos as well. These are the machines where you press a button and an instant type of espresso comes out. If you add an extra shot and drink it while it’s hot it can pass as a caffeine drink. A girl came out with pastries at 6 am and some tiny croissants melted in my mouth in about 2 bites. Finally Debbie came out of her room and at 6:30 and we went in for breakfast. The buffet breakfast was excellent and with the highlights being sparkling champagne and a wonderful brioche bread that I filled with lox and cucumber (this was after a fruit plate and a regular plate of bacon, eggs and maybe 1 or 2 of those wee croissants.) At 8:45 Ross finally joined us so I had a bit more lox and bread. We finally finished breakfast and got ready for our first excursion – The Hermitage Tour.
We are in bus 42 with Katiana. She speaks excellent English and has a good sense of humour as well as lots of interesting info about life in St Petersburg now and back during the tsarist times. She will be our guide for the rest of the trip. The Hermitage was busy yet Katiana thought it was almost barren compared to any other day. I was shocked to see so many great Impressionist paintings and wish we’d had more time. We walked about 3 or 4 km and supposedly if we had continued at that pace we could have seen the whole place in 9 days. We only saw some highlights. But after 4 hours that was all the feet and eyes could take.
Back on the ship for a nap and dinner then off to a ballet, Swan Lake. The only parts of the ballet I saw were a few of the moves after every cymbol clash. Oh and when the percussion played the castenets I opened my eyes again. The black and white swan were the professional dancers and the others seemed like students. Guess I’ve been watching too many “So You Think You Can Dance” episodes on TV.
Monday, Sep 5
Up at 6, fake capp and then another breakfast buffet. Kept my trips to the buffet to only 1 because I ordered eggs Benedict from the menu. Excellent. Off to Pushkin to Catherine the Great’s Palace. Super impressive. Now I really know what Baroque looks like and they must have been broke after doing all the gold leaf! The different empresses went all out to try and show off the Russian high society. Apparently a room or two can be rented out for corporate events. Tickets for an Elton John concert there went for $3000 each a few years back. I’m wondering if Book club or the quilting group would like to do a retreat…
This afternoon we did a city tour where we hopped on and off the bus for photo ops but some of the better opportunities were pics from the bus as the driver outmanouevered everyone to grab parking spots and made 2 lane roads into 3 lane roads. We were the fastest bus in town and have been the first bus back to the ship each time.
Our group sat on the sun deck enjoying the scenery and the daily special drink until dinner. I’ll try to remember the pedometer tomorrow so I can see if I actually have been walking enough to have 2 desserts, drinks and those buttery baby croissants.


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