We awoke to find we had new neighbours in St Petersburg. While we were asleep two more cruise ships crept in, these being the MSC Orchestra and the Costa Atlantica. This cheered Debbie a bit as she presumed they would be full of Italians (she is a bit of a tart where Italians are concerned). With ourselves and the Jewel of the Seas already in port, this was going to make for a very busy time in town. With each ship effectively despatching 30+ coaches into the early morning rush hours we just knew it was going to be congested. Thank god therefore that we elected for an afternoon tour [to the Cathedral of Spilt Blood]. After a spot of lunch of course.
Now for the educational bit:
The Cathedral was built over the place where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 when a bomb was thrown into his carriage. Where he fell fell and his blood spilt [on the cobblestones] the Cathedral was built while retaining the actual cobblestones where he fell within an alter as a memorial. The building itself is an absolute marvel golden domes, coloured spirals and textured cupolas.
The interior is embellished with over 7000 square meters of mosaics including more than 20 types of semi-precious stones including jasper, rhodonite, porphyry and Italian marble.
That’s the nearest you’ll get to education from me today. The pictures below are just a few samples.
After visiting the Cathedral, we were awarded some shopping time in a local market where you could buy all manner of genuine Russian artefacts such as Russian Dolls, hats, tableware, etc, etc. A quick look at some of the dolls convinced me that we were not in a good place: they ranged from 1000 to 8000 roubles: In a shop maybe, in a market? no way. But I did find myself a nice little hip flask with the hammer and sickle and CCCP on the side, so I bought that instead. You can imagine my dismay when I got back to the ship, clutching my nice shiny spoils only to see imprinted on the bottom [in English] ‘Stainless Steel’.Obviously, it wasn’t a genuine Russian artefact at all. Boo Hoo.
The journey back to the ship through St Petersburg was interesting. The traffic was a nightmare though I doubt all the coaches from the ship wont have helped, but at least we got a chance to see the town in a little more detail and the better side of town at that. As I said, it was interesting: while earlier the town seemed very drab, grey and uninviting, now it was very much the opposite, with MacDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway and Irish Bars plus well know high street stores such as Zara and Ikea. And here, the traffic consisted of new Merc’s, Range Rovers, Porsche, Land Cruisers, etc. there was even the occasional Roller and Ferrari. This was a stark contrast to the fading, ageing Opels, Lada’s, Moskvitch’s, etc. Eventually however the journey ended and we had to leave the coach and face the Russian Passport Control.
What a miserable bunch of buggers they are.
I’m sure they are deliberately slow just to annoy us. They seem to check everything before grunting and pressing a button to let you through. Either they want tourists or they don’t. If they do, will somebody tell them it’s not a sign of weakness to smile.
At last, we got back on board, so we headed to the bar for a much needed drink and something to eat, just to see us through to Dinner. We then retired to our cabin for a rest and a pre-dinner brandy. Sitting out on the balcony, watching the Italian ships leave (not before time) we were entertained by the sight of couple of military aircraft who seemed to be practicing for an air display. I’m tempted to say they were Migs but that’s only because I don’t know otherwise and I certainly don’t know how to spell any of the other types. But they were good what ever they were, doing loops and cross over’s, laying smoke trails and formation fly by’s. All too soon it was over and so we had to get ready for our evening meal which was to be washed down with a rather nice bottle of a Spanish White Rioca.
After dinner we ‘retired’, again, to the Observatory Lounge for a couple of rather large brandy’s. I’m afraid we stayed a little later than planned as we were deceived by the lightness of the evening. Sunset was at 23:31 and at 00:30 it was still light (sunrise by the way was to be at 04:01). Eventually however, we realised the time and off we went to bed. At least tomorrow, as today, our excursion was an afternoon one so we could have a lie in.
Maybe, I’ll lose some weight tomorrow. Maybe: Just Maybe!