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  • Day15

    Russia

    June 4, 2019 in Russia ⋅ 🌫 22 °C

    Happy to report we made it in and out of St Petersburg Russia without a visit with authorities. The cruise director kept warning everyone not to fool around with the customs requirements...saying "there is no rushing the Russians" it takes time to clear customs be patient. We were a little apprehensive as Paul was here in 1972 and had a minor traffic issue that involved Russian police...so I was very thankful when he cleared the gate after I was already through.
    St Petersburg home of the Tsars..it is like a work of art......it is mind blowing...5.8 million people ..only 63 sunny days a year and we were here for two of the most perfect. We toured this canal city by boat...68 islands and canals. The canal wall made of granite was built in 1733. It surrounds the city..unbelievable engineering. It is known as Venice of the north ..one incredible building after another dating back to the 1700s. Katherine and Peter the Great built many castles. The amber room at the Katherine Palace is stunning. ..a whole room of amber walls and decor can't be described. The gold leaf in the palaces and churches throughout the city is hard to comprehend.. During the war years many of the art treasures from all over Europe were taken to Russia and hidden...it is this vast collection of fine art that fills the Hermitage and other great palaces. Amazing to see.
    The Russian baroque style used by many architects and the ornate carvings covered in gold leaf readily available instead of marble like the rest of Europe. The churches are exceptional in design, size and decor and full of historic tombs.
    We saw the artillery museum...scary...they have so many munitions..and ships now anchored that were used in many pivotal war maneuvers.
    After the revolution everything was state owned and the country has a difficult transition moving to public ownership and commerce. The city has prospered with shipbuilding..science and IT development, logistics..and big port infrastructure.
    Following our 9hr tour day..we had another wonderful dinner and dancing under the stars on a beautiful evening. The Viking cruise is truly top notch, fun and we have met so many interesting people.
    What an experience to see all this history and the fine art of the Hermitage, knowing we haven't even scratched the surface.
    The weather has been incredible for our whole trip. Not one rainy day anywhere. It was cool but sunny in Scandinavia but this week has been 80F plus. Wonderful!

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