061112 - St Petersburg - the first two days with a guide 

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Saint Nicholas Cathedral


The first two days in St Petersburg we employed the services of Vladimir Ivankiv to introduce us to St Petersburg. Vladimir organised a van to accommodate the six of us and together with a very patient and competent driver we headed off on a five hour introductory tour of the city.  it was almost an overload of information but at the end of the day Vladimir had equipped us with enough knowledge to have gained our bearings in the city, a glimpse into Russian history and knowledge to use the local transport system.

Highlights of the tour included St Nicholas where a service was being held and the singing of the local choir brought goose bumps to our skin. St Isaacs Cathedral, The Church of the Spilled Blood, viewing of The Admiralty, endless Russian Brides, a central market where the produce was outstanding and a great lunch at Stolle (The local pie shop) of which there are lots all over St Petersburg. 

Our second day we took advantage of having a car and headed out to Peterhof about 30km from the city area, passing Putins summer residence along the way. When you see photos of the ruins of the buildings and surrounding gardens after Nazi occupation in 1943 it is hard to believe that The Grand Palace and surrounding grounds have been able to be restored to their former glory over the last sixty years. Vladimir told of how many of the treasures from within Peterhof were whisked away and hidden with the threat of invasion and were presented back to the city with great ceremony after the war. Each room of The Grand Palace was unique on its own and incredibly opulent with tapestries dating back to the 1700s, furniture, chandeliers clocks, mirrors, lavish drapes and more gold leaf then one would think possible to display. The Grand Palace was equalled in its impressiveness by the Grand Cascade - having a sunny day certainly highlighted the Golden Statues - amazingly the entire cascade of fountains is driven by gravity apparently no pumps used at all. We continued on through the gardens of the Lower Park. Certainly a place that one could spend an entire day, enjoying the surrounds and people watching. The final stop of the day was at a local supermarket for a run down on the necessities (Milk, Bread and Vodka) so that when on our own we don’t end up with buttermilk or sour cream as has happened in the past. 

So equipped with the knowledge to shop, the correct Trolley bus to ride from the marina to the city and an understanding of the city layout we were ready to tour on our own. 

Two days with a guide so worth it.

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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia