St Petersburg

Trip Start Aug 29, 2012
Trip End Sep 19, 2012

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 8 found us steaming into the cruise terminal in St Petersburg by 7 in the morning. Apparently just ten years ago this huge area was the open sea. It has been reclaimed and can accommodate a number of cruise ships all at the same time. However, it still looks quite desolate, and all passengers would far prefer the cruise terminal be way up the river closer to the center of this great city.

As our scheduled Panoramic Sights of St Petersburg shore excursion was at 1:45 to 5:30 in the afternoon, we stayed on board in the morning. A cruise passenger does not need to obtain a visa to enter St Petersburg if that passenger is booked on a P & O shore excursion. If you want to have a private tour, you will need to have a visa.

We were taken to the Admiralty, the Alexandrinski Theatre, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Field of Mars and the Summer Palace, the Russian Museum, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage,  St Isaac`s Cathedral. The Senate, the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Engineer`s castle, the Winter Circus and the Astoria Hotel. We strolled amongst the sightseers (with our hands firmly on our wallets and cameras) at the Cruiser Aurora, and joined the crowd at the very colorful Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood. 

We shopped for matrioshka dolls, painted wooden spoons and plates, fur hats, local porcelain, Palekh lacquered boxes and jewellery, Zhostovo trays, shawls, scarves and lace, and Amber, and flavoured vodkas. The prices were quoted in US dollars and euros.

Peter the Great and his successors created in St Petersburg, known in the past as Petrograd in the first World War, and then Leningrad after Lenin died, a supreme architectural set piece. The layout of the buildings and open spaces was planned with great skill from the outset, achieving an effect quite different from most other cities of the world which have grown and developed in an ad hoc way.

Built on the marches, it is a city of waterscapes - rivers, canals and more than 300 bridges.  It has a great history and amazing buildings, palaces, monuments, gardens, wide streets, spacious squares, large parks. It is unbelievable, beautiful, great.  

We returned to the cruise ship after the tour, to rest overnight, as we had another shore excursion the next day. Most cruise ships stay overnight in St Petersburg, as there is so much to see and to do here. 

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