Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Aug 28-30 St. Petersburg, Russia

If you cared to know, St. Petersburg is supposed to be the northernmost major city of the world. It has about 5 million people. Peter the Great began building here about 300 years ago, and I have to admit the palaces are stunning. While he attempted to have more canals than Venice, the problem is they all freeze in winter. As a young city, by European standards, there are still many legends and stories since it's founding in 1703.

My first taste of Russian hospitality was at the passport/customs window. I forgot to bring my "tourist ticket" with my passport, and boy, was that a problem. I could have gone back on the ship to get them for me and Dianne, but the tour guide said they could just issue new ones. This did not make the customs officer happy. I think they would have rather not let us in the country. We spend 3 days touring Russia, and you'd think they would welcome tourist dollars. I'm not sure I want to enter Russia, but we do.

And I'm glad we did. The Winter Palace is now the Hermitage Museum and contained art from all over the world; Picasso, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Van Gogh,  Matisse, and more. It was amazing.

Dianne booked our tour through SPB Tours, and not through the Oceania cruise ship. This worked out really great. We had our own tour guide for 14 people total. During our three days we saw the Summer Palace, amazing churches and monuments.

Here is a condensed list of what we saw in St. Petersburg:
            Day 1
1.      Walked along the Nevsky prospect/shopping area
2.      A visit to Peter and Paul’s fortress and cathedral
3.      Lunch at a local restaurant
4.      An inside visit to the Church on the Blood on the spot where some royal was killed
5.      A visit to the Russian Museum
Day 2
1.      Drive to Peterhof and take a subway ride
2.      Special early entrance to the Peterhof Grand Palace and a walk in the Lower fountain
3.      Visit the park and the Upper gardens
4.      Lunch at a different local restaurant
5.      Drive to Pushkin (Tsars’ Village)
6.      Visit Tsars’ village park, the Catherine’s palace with the Amber room
Day 3
1.      City sight-seeing tour by canal boat ride
2.      Special early entrance to the Hermitage Museum
3.      Lunch at another different local restaurant
4.      Excursion in the Yusupov Palace
5.      Inside visit to St. Isaac’s Cathedral

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