Our second stop on our rewind time travel trip is St. Petersburg, Russia. I hope you had fun revisiting Bødo with Todd and I. Now let’s take some time to explore the land of Peter the Great, the Romanovs and the Hermitage. Just like the famous Matryoshka dolls, St. Petersburg has many layers to open.
Visiting St. Petersburg by cruise ship is the only way one can visit Russia without a visa. As long as you have booked with a government approved tour group, you are allowed to enter. We booked a 1.5 day tour. It was still intimidating going through customs in Russia. As a kid of the 80’s, my mind kept going back to the cold war ideas of the U.S.S.R. But, it was actually non-eventful.
Our first day consisted of an orientation tour of the city and a sunset boat ride. The sunset boat ride was amazing. From the water, surrounded by beautiful buildings and red, pink and purple skies, Todd and I felt as though we were in a Disney movie. As the sun receded the heat went with it. It was quite chilly on the boat. This, to me, made it more magical.
After the boat ride, we returned to the ship around 10:00 pm and headed straight to bed as our next day was starting very early.
The next morning we got up bright and early and headed out for a bus tour of St. Petersburg. Our first stop was the grand St. Isaac’s Cathedral. We did not go inside but we had the opportunity to walk around the outside and see the beautiful flowers. I even made a Russian friend. He took the time to pose for me on top of one of the beautiful roses.
From there we made out way to the Hermitage. We had early access since we were part of the tour. Luckily it was not crowded at all until near the end of the tour. We also thought, despite what we’ve been told, that the babushkas guarding each room were quite pleasant. Apparently they can get quite aggressive given the right situation. But what I can say about the Hermitage? Everyone should visit this museum/castle at least once in their lives. It is massive and it is filled with beautiful art. The building itself is art.
We’ve made it half way thorough our long day of adventure and we still had two massively amazing places to visit. The first of the final two places was the Church of Our Savior on Blood. The outside was being renovated so I was unable to get any good pictures of the beautiful tops. The inside was like being in a dream. Every bit of the walls were filled with mosaics. It was quite busy with loads of people. But, I hardly noticed as I spent most of my time looking up.
We took a break from the magnificent places to take a quick ride on the Metro. During the Soviet era, the Metro stations were made up like little museums. The Metro is also one of the deepest Metros in the world and the escalators in and out are quite long. Don’t look down.
Our final stop for the day was my favorite, Peterhof Palace. We spent the late afternoon touring the grounds. Despite being crowded, the grounds still felt isolated. To say the water features of the grounds were unbelievable is an understatement. Fountains, shooting waves of water high in the air, were everywhere. Acres and acres of trees, fountains, gardens and beautiful buildings surrounded us. It was the perfect place to end our trip.
I am not sure what St. Petersburg is like outside of the government sanctioned tour. The thing that surprised us the most was how open the tour guides were about Russia. We had imagined that government sanctioned tour guides would have been quite tight-lipped. Thankfully, we were wrong. Go visit, see for yourself. I think you will enjoy.