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  • May23

    Day 4 of cruise St Petersburg - day 42

    May 23, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The day was cold but fine – around 14 degrees. We had docked by the time our alarm went off at 7am. But all of the ship excursion people had to get off first, and we were about ready when our call came at 8.30. We had to go through passport control to enter Russia and had a visa for the day. It was easy to find our tour guide – just like going through security at an airport and meeting someone. We had booked our guide and car for the day several months ago. With only having one day there, we wanted to make the most of it.

    We got in our car for the day and made for our first stop – one of the train stations. These are destinations in their own right, and we went to 3 altogether. The trains were much noiser that others we have caught in Europe. And the escalator was really long. Apparently St Petersberg is built on swamp land, so the train network is 65m below the surface so to find solid ground. Each train station is different, and one we went to had round wooden pillars that were enclosed in glass. The story behind how they made them was pretty interesting. Then it was back to the car again to go to Peterhof which is supposed to be this amazing garden with fountains about an hour away. And amazing it was. The pictures will have to show off the magnificence of the fountains and the tulip gardens. There were also lots of stories about different rulers, and what they did. Also, the trick fountains – ie benches to sit on, or paths to walk on which triggered very strong wetting fountains. Apparently, the ruler had a sense of humour and enjoyed wetting his guests. It was rather cold there this morning with a biting wind. But still there were many people running through and enjoying the challenge of getting wet from the fountains. There was also a whole road which apparently had fountains all the way through at 1pm and 3pm – so if you didn’t read the signs you would get soaked. We were at the gardens for a couple of hours, and it was well worth it.

    Then we got back in the car and headed back to the city. We had raided the breakfast buffet, so had a bacon rolls and Danish pastries in the car on the way. Our next stop was the Church of spilled blood. This church was built over the site of where someone was killed and who had done a lot for the country. The inside was amazing with all the walls and ceilings covered in mosaics. It was really colourful and great to have visited. Our guide – Alisa – told us a lot about structures that were ruined in WW2, and the restoration effort that had gone on to rebuild them. She was very interesting and very informative.

    Then we went to The Hermitage which is an amazing museum. For me it was a bit like the Pitti Palace in Florence, and the Ducal Palace in Venice. We spent around 2 hours in there and saw all the famous exhibits. Generally, Jody and I had seen something else in the room that was more interesting than the supposedly famous ones that Alisa was telling us about. The ceilings, doors and floors were pretty amazing. We were pleased that we had gone, but it was massive. We might have gone through about 35% of the museum and were pretty held up by all the large tour groups at times. It was really good just being a group of 3 as we could go through things quite quickly.

    After the Hermitage we had another couple of photo stops before heading back to our ship. We timed this extremely badly – ie just after 3 tour buses had arrived, so we had to wait for all of them to go through security and passport control again. It took us over an hour to get through – we could have spent that time sightseeing somewhere! But on the other hand, after yesterday we were quite pleased to be back early and were pretty knackered.

    So, after dinner and a spa we are headed for bed. Didn’t go to the show tonight – spa won out. But I found some kiwis on board, and of course we have someone we both know – Euro Coulter you are the one! They are both policepersons (married couple) from Auckland. And in the spa we talked to a couple from Canada and another from Washington. It was interesting hearing what other people had done with their day. And that reminds me… when we got back on the boat there were a lot of people waiting for the lifts. At one stage there wasn’t enough room for us and an Australian couple because some people pushed in from the side. I made some disparaging comment, and the woman said yes they were jolly rude (hmmm, maybe a bit nicer than the language that I had used), then she said, and I bet they were Asians. I had to give her a high 5 (she would have been over 70 and under 5 foot, so it was quite hilarious). Now I have nothing against Asian people at all, but by golly in general they are a lot pushier than other people in these situations. I think they are just used to having to push past a lot of people, and ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ don’t appear to be part of their vocabulary.
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