Whew! Yesterday was such a full day (in St. Petersburg) that I completely forgot that the Russian Experience (™) didn’t end when we returned to the ship. No early night for us. Royal Caribbean had a troupe of dancers on board for a Russian folkloric show. Check it out…
Now it was Day #2, and we headed out into the unseasonably cold morning for a canal boat ride on the Neva River. Fortunately, the boat had a glass canopy and we were protected from the wind. Unfortunately, there were another thousand tourists with us to get on the boat. Our guide, Maria, was chosen to do the narration for everyone. Not only did that mean she’s the best there is (in my highly unscientific study), but it also meant she got her group (meaning us) to where we needed to be before everyone else. Yay!
We disembarked our canal boat and waited for a few minutes on another boat for our hydrofoil – slated for the second bit of fun for the day – to arrive. (It was a very nautical morning.) We sped off for a much faster ride this time, which was exciting until I fell asleep. Stephanie tells me the entire trip was lots of fun.
The hydrofoil took us to Peterhof Palace. Designed by Peter the Great, Peterhof Palace is sometimes referred to as the “Russian Versailles,” and it is just as ornate as its French counterpart We didn’t go inside the complex as it is vast; we were there to see the gardens, and we arrived just as the fountains came on to greet the new day.
The tree fountain above would turn on and off, and had a tendency to soak people trying to run past it. It took us a while to spot the little shack in which the sat the fountain’s controller, but it was fun to watch people try and stay dry.
After Peterhof we stopped for lunch where we had borscht (among other things). It was much better than I had expected; it was a hot, light and tasty beet-based broth loaded with good stuff, and not at all what I had prepped myself for. Since I was dreading the taste so much, I didn’t take a photo before I ate it all, but as a public service, here’s what I always thought borscht was…
On our way to our next stop, traffic was held up while a huge military convoy got on the highway. They must have been heading into St. Petersburg for the Victory Day parade, and not as some of our tour-members joked, mobilizing against Donald Trump. It was pretty neat to see honest-to-goodness missile launchers drive by as though they were the family station wagon.
Finally, the tanks were gone, and we were off to Catherine Palace. “What,” you ask, “another palace??” I was starting to think that St. Petersburg was all palaces, and no actual homes. Catherine Palace was built for Catherine I in the late 1700s. Just a little recreational summer home.
We were not allowed to take photos in the famous Amber Room which is decorated in floor to ceiling amber mosaic so as to preserve postcard sales.
At last, with our heads good and saturated with Russian beauty and history and just a touch of vodka, we bade goodbye to St. Petersburg, and boarded our floating home to head to our next port of call.