It feels surreal to be in Russia yet the actual experience is just like any other major European city with the exception of signage. The language and the written word are like pieces of art.
We booked an independent private two-day highlights tour with TJ Travel. The ship docked at 7 am and we prepared to depart as soon as possible having heard it could take up to 45 minutes to clear customs.
Apparently the line to depart began on deck six and we managed to merge in from five and were meeting our guide Tatiana after clearing customs in only about fifteen minutes. I’m just excited to have a Russian passport stamp!
Tatiana and our driver Roman took us to several photo spots around the city.
One of the Czars goals was to claim the city as the Venice of the North and it certainly has the feel. Rivers, canals and bridges cut across the city yet the canal culture never thrived.
A subway stop was interesting. Odd but interesting.
The Russian Orthodox Church was beautiful and while on a bit of the tourist route, still a thriving congregation.
To reach Peterhof we enjoyed a twenty minute hydrofoil nap and were soon as the royal summer residence. Where we spent a lovely afternoon exploring the gardens and fountains.
Peterhof is celebrating its official opening with a concert and visiting dignitaries complete with heavy military presence.
Our next stop is the Catherine Palace about an hour away but fist lunch! Since we’re in Russia I started with a caviar appetizer followed by a simple vegetable and poem meatball soup. Very good.
The Catherine Palace is beautiful yet sad to realize everything you see has been painstakingly restored since it’s near total destruction in WWII.
We wrapped up with a short stroll through the grounds before returning to St. Petersburg and our home away from home.
It’s been a long day with other full one tomorrow. I’m going to need a vacation from my vacation!