St. Petersburg, Russia

Trip Start Jul 07, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Flag of Russia  , Sankt-Peterburg,
Friday, July 17, 2009

Wow, what an impressive city. The architecture here is amazing. I'm so glad that I am getting to see this great city. It is quite an experience.

Our tour left right on time at 7:30 a.m. this morning with rather cool weather that nicely turned sunny and warm. We were amazed to find out from our guide that St. Petersburg (from now on referred to as SP, to save time) receives only about 30 sunny days a year. I guess we are really lucky as it turned out to be a beautiful day and is supposed to be nice tomorrow, too.

Our first stop was just out of the city at a place callled Pushkin (named after Alexander Pushkin, the great Russian poet) where we visited the summer palace of Catherine the Great. The palace was almost completely destroyed in WWII and the Russians have lovingly restored it to its former grandeur. The interior is entirely decorated in white and gold. The outside is a pale turquoise with white and gold. We got to tour several of the state apartments and some of the dining rooms. Quite wonderful and opulent almost beyond imagining. One of the rooms was adorned with mosaic panels made from different types of Baltic amber. Gorgeous.

We had lunch at a restaurant at the palace. It consisted of champagne, vodka, salad, borscht, chicken with paprika and ice cream. Very good. It was accompanied by some traditional Russian singers and dancers. Really entertaining.

After lunch we headed back to SP where we toured the city some more and saw some more amazing sites, inlcuding St. Isaac's cathedral, several war monuments and the impressive St. Peter and Paul cathedral where the Russian aristocracy from the time of Peter the Great are entombed. We also got to see the Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood which is the sight of the assasination of Alexancder II.

We did have time for some souvenir shopping - my goodness there is a lot of it, matryosha dolls (those nesting dolls) laquer boxes, decorated eggs, furs of all kinds, porcelain, and so on.

In some ways Russia was what I expected and in other ways not. I mentioned the impressive architecture. The traffic was crazy and like I expected - in many cases the biggest thing on the road gets the right of way. The buildings, although very gradiose, are a little run down. The people are very curt, business like and very knowledgeable. Our guide overwhelmed us with her knowledge of SP and Russian history.

Tomorrow we are still in St. Petersburg. We are touring the Hermitage but not until 2 p.m. so we get to sleep in - yay!

You have to go through Russian immigration both getting off the ship and getting back on, not sure why, but it does slow things down.

Well, time to sign off for tonight and get some fresh air before retiring for an early night. Have some sleep to catch up on.

Here's something interesting I learned about Finland and forgot to put it in my Finland entry. The Finnish people have a different name for their home country - it is Suonomi. That is quite different from Finland, isn't it?

bye for now

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