Day 5 (29/06) – St Petersburg, Russia.

Posted: July 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

We arrived at St Petersburg in the early hours as we were ‘enjoying’ an early breakfast before were to go on our first tour to Peterhof Palace.

First impression of St Petersburg? I don’t want to live here. It looks so soulless with loads of high rise blocks of flats and featureless landscapes. It was just dreary and grey brightened only by the bright blue sky and promised temperatures of 27c+.

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The next challenge was Russian immigration. I’ve met some surly immigration officials before but none like these. We all had to queue to go though one at a time and pass our passport and papers through a little hole in the kiosk like a child at a sweetie shop. They then checked the passport in every detail, checked  the immigration papers, in every detail.  Cross checked passport with papers in every detail, typed something in on something in their secure little kiosk they were sitting in, stamped the passport and returned it with one half of the immigration for then pressed a switch to let us through the gate. I tried to smile at them, I tried to say hello, I even said thank you but nothing came back. Still, at least I was through. There were 34 on our coach so you can imagine how long it took, even with three kiosks running.

Now then, remember I said that they gave back one half of the immigration paper.Well, we had been told that we must not lose this as to do so would incur a penalty and we would have to give them a full account of what we had been doing, where we had been and how / why we had come to lose it. We didn’t lose it. I guarded those items close than my own wallet.

Having made it through Passport Control, we made our way onto our coach. Not sure when the coach was built but I am fairly confident that both Debbie and I had been born so it wasn’t too old! Actually, it wasn’t that bad, just a bit musty and cramped but it did have air conditioning, of sorts.

So, once we were all sitting comfortably we set off through the city of St Petersburg while our guise gave us a running commentary about the city, and how it was networked with waterways and believed itself to be the Venice of the North and also the City of Love. I shall simply bow to the superior knowledge of our guide on that one. Anyway, we carried on through the City of Love until we at last reached the Peterhof Palace Museum.

I won’t give any details about the Palace except to say that it was originally built as a two storey three wing building before some woman called Catherine came along and another storey and two wings (one either side) and the proceeded to decorate it with the most amazing bling one could imagine. Unfortunately, taking photographs inside the building is absolutely forbidden, also, you can’t touch anything and you have to wear overshoes to protect the floor. And, just in case you had errant ways, there was a surly looking woman in every room and on every corner ready to pounce on any wrongdoer. It is however well worth the visit: It is stunning beyond stunning.

Moving outside there are the gardens with the most amazing statues and ornaments around the most fantastic fountain set up I’ve seen (at least I’ve got some ideas for the paddock).

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Anyway, after all this we had to head back to the ship for a late lunch before we had to get ready for an early dinner before heading back out for an evening boat trip along the waterways of St Petersburg where I sampled some Russian Vodka [it’s very nice and very cheap).

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After we returned from the trip we ‘retired’, again, to the Observatory Lounge for a couple of rather large brandy’s and some light snacks. And then it was off to bed. Tomorrow, still in St Petersburg, we go to visit the Cathedral of Spilt Blood but at least it’s a late start.

Maybe, I’ll lose some weight tomorrow.

Go to St Petersburg (Next Day) >>>>

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