A few weeks ago we went on a Baltic adventure. I’m going to do a few posts of our days ashore, along with lots of photos. Our third port was St Petersburg in Russia. We had an overnight there so two very full days.
We saw so many amazing sights, and took so many photos that I’m splitting these days up so I can share more of them.
Day two was an early start. Once again debarkation went smoothly and we waited just outside the terminal at the pre-arranged spot for our minibus. By 7.45 we were on our way.
The weather wasn’t quite as nice as the previous day but it was still warm and dry, although a little breezy. We knew how lucky we were to get two good days, especially when we found out that the day after, the weather was so bad that no cruise ships could leave or arrive.
Our first stop was at Nevsky Prospekt, next to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. It was just a ten minute stop for us to take photos.
Nevsky Prospekt is St Petersburg’s main avenue and also the main shopping street. It’s lined with beautiful buildings, squares and bridges so it was great to be able to take a quick look. We couldn’t stray far, as our visa required us to stay close to our guide, but we managed to take a few photos.Across the road was the canal and further down it we could see the Church on the spilled blood, which was on that day’s itinerary. There was a lovely building with lots of ornate decorations just across from us but Stephen was fascinated by this.The minibus was parked on one of the bridges as the canal continued beneath us, and behind us was Kazan cathedral. We didn’t go inside this one but we did take a few photos of the outside. The statue is of Field-Marshall Kutuzov who is one of the most famous figures in Russia’s military history.
After we’d all had a good look around, we piled back on the bus and headed for our next adventure – a boat ride. We’d really been looking forward to this.
There were three boats waiting, with lots of people already loaded onto them. We didn’t get a photo of our boat, but this is the one in front which was identical.We were seated on folding chairs that were arranged in rows across the boat. Different, but it was fine and we were comfy enough. We sat right at the back and took quite a few photos looking back.We went under lots of bridges, some of which were very ornate. On the first bridge there was a chap leaning over and waving at us, so we all waved back. As you do. Then he was on the next bridge. And the next. We were puzzled how he was on all three, when we were moving at a fair speed on the canal. Then we spotted him at the side, running for all he was worth. He managed to get to every bridge during the hour that we were on the boat. After a while, we were all looking for him and applauding him when he made it at the last minute. He’d stand there and blow kisses and wave. It was hilarious.He was waiting when we got off the boat, and got a good few tips off people. I think he earned it. Some of those bridges were a long way apart.
From the canal that we started in, we turned into the River Neva and saw a few familiar sights. This is the beautiful Winter Palace, where we were the day before. And this is a wide shot showing more of the Hermitage museum.We also saw the lighthouses that we’d stopped at the day before and could see where we’d been standing to take photos. That white building with the columns is the old stock exchange. We had a good view of it when we stopped at the Rostral columns on our first day and it’s a lovely building.
We saw the Peter and Paul Fortress, which was on that day’s itinerary and looked so pretty from the water.This next building is the Kunstkammer. It’s the first museum in Russia. It was established by Peter the Great and completed in 1727. It hosts the Peter the Great museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.I’ve just been reading about it online and it looks a fascinating place to visit. We’re already discussing the possibility of doing another Baltic cruise with a private tour of St Petersburg to see some of the more off the beaten track places. Yeah, I know, we’ve only just got back, but we had such a brilliant time, with the cruise itself and the places we visited, that we really want to do it again.
A few more photos from the boat ride, and then I’ll move on to our next stop. The boat ride was lovely. The weather was perfect for it and it was brilliant to see a different view of St Petersburg. We were really glad that it was part of our tour.
Our next stop was Yusupov palace, which is where Rasputin was killed. Anna told us loads about that, while we were being shown around and it was fascinating. This was the one place where photo permissions were not included with admission so we had the option of paying extra if we wanted to. As it was only $3 each, it was a bit of a no-brainer.
The tour started with the Rasputin display which uses photographs, documents and wax figures to recreate the assassination and the following investigation. The legends surrounding Rasputin’s murder, which took place in the basement of the Yusupov Palace on 16 December 1916, are mostly based on the sensationalist account in the autobiography of Prince Felix Yusupov, who claimed to have led the plotters in first poisoning, then shooting, then beating Rasputin with clubs and throwing him into the icy Malaya Nevka River, where the Mad Monk eventually died of hypothermia. (I’m afraid I didn’t memorise all of that from our tour – I’ve just nicked it from Saint-Petersburg.com.)
Next we went round more of the palace. As in most of the places that we visited, no flash photography was allowed, and there wasn’t as much natural light here so the photos are quite grainy.
Most of the rooms were richly decorated, with some gorgeous furnishings. Everywhere you looked there was something beautiful – the floors, walls and ceilings. Here’s a small sample of the photos that we took there. We even managed to get Anna, our guide, in one shot.She was brilliant and really made our two-day tour special.
Day two was just as intensive as the first day. By the time we’d finished at Yusupov, it wasn’t even noon and we still had three more places to visit before getting back to the ship for the 6pm sailing. I’ve still got loads of photos to show you so I’m going to split the days in half again and will carry on in another post.