A Travellerspoint blog

Russia

Day 8

St.Petersburg revisited

semi-overcast 9 °C

We were up and moving in good time when the train arrived back in St.Petersburg after a great sleep from Moscow and warned this time that a second breakfast would be waiting, I chose some lovely porridge with berries ( followed inevitably by apple strudel). Because of our prompt departure we were rewarded by smiles and greetings from our compartment attendant this time. Our lovely Helena was waiting for us to take us for a traditional Russian breakfast of pancakes and omelette( separate dishes, not mixed) to get us started. We had a booked visit to the Hermitage for 11 so we started with a quick walk to see the Spilled Blood church nearby. Very pretty ( apart from the scaffolding).
Spilled Blood church

Spilled Blood church

Then on to the Winter Palace...passing a film set next to it but no idea what they were filming - by costumes, something set around 1914 was our guess. Then came our turn to enter the Winter Palace and Hermitage...it really is too much to take in the splendour of it all...even in 3 hours of heavy duty walking ( of my poor blistered feet) but not to be missed.
Peacock Clock

Peacock Clock


Keith is not a lover of art at the best of times so was feeling a bit art-lagged by the end, and I have to admit to being quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of famous paintings on display by the end of it. We parted from our guide after finishing our Hermitage tour when she took us to our booked boat trip. It’s a great way of seeing the city as the river and canals seem to go everywhere. Boat trip done, we found our driver who took us back to the ferry terminal and sadly day went downhill from there!
First there was an enormous queue to check in ( so many students/young people of all nationalities...seem to travel for the overnight clubbing on board all these cruise ferries as some look very bad in the morning!). Next queue was to get through security to get out to the boat...once through, the next was a long open air queue to get to the gangway. No nice covered walkways or lifts like in Helsinki, although the same boat, the return seems more bleak than the outward travel. We had to manhandle our luggage up a lot of shaky steps to board ( like high tide in Stornoway before they got the new pier)...then to add insult to injury, the surly security guard spotted our travel Jetton the X-ray machine and insisted it be handed over to be returned on leaving the boat. We had some small complimentary bottles of Prosecco left from a previous ferry so made do with them instead of making a cuppa ourselves-so there! Then the cabin was cold and the thermostat didn’t work and there was no hand soap...it had all been ok on our way out on the same vessel. And so to bed...

Posted by nanny0gg 02:39 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Day 7

Moscow

overcast

Day started badly...didn’t hear the announcement that we’d arrived in Moscow so were so late off the train that we incurred the wrath of our compartment attendant and ALL of the glowering attendants of the other compartments( about 15 of them standing to attention beside their compartment doors) as we made the walk of shame along the long, long platform to where our driver was anxiously waiting for us.
Long train!

Long train!


We were bundled into the car and taken to a nice hotel where we had a second breakfast - the train one is excellent but not sure if even I can cope with a dessert of Apple strudel at 0715…. but the eggs Benedict was great. Duly stoked up with caffeine etc for the day to come, our tour guide came to collect us and off we set to clock up another 7 miles of walking. We started with visits to some of the more spectacular Metro stations to admire the different styles Metro

Metro


Partisan memorial Metro

Partisan memorial Metro


The different stops have such diverse themes we took a very circuitous route in order to see as many as possible on our way to our ultimate destination, Red Square.
Red Square

Red Square


The square was just as imagined with the Kremlin, St.Basil’s and The Gum department store and people queuing to see Lenin. We didn’t bother with that...I had no wish to view a dead guy! The visits to those and the tour of all the cathedrals and the armoury in the Kremlin took us the rest of the day and a lot more walking so by the time our lovely guide returned us to the hotel, we were ready to rest. Again, the best meal nearby was to be found at a Brewhouse ( Bavarian this time!)so that’s where we headed to eat before the driver collected us to return us to the station for the overnight train back to St.Petersburg. It’s so lovely to have someone to lead us to the least busy loos, past the hoards (or hordes) of Chinese tourists and navigate the Metro...well done to “Go Russia” with whom we were booked.
The sleeper trains are rather lovely and do feel somewhat 1930s...
Grand Express

Grand Express

Posted by nanny0gg 01:10 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Day 6

Helsinki to St.Petersburg....and such a lot of walking!

sunny 12 °C
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

The St Petersburg ferry is part Italian run/ managed(!) so I had an excellent pizza for my meal...which seemed weird but breakfast was far more Nordic with loads of fish on offer...which delighted Keith but I avoided like the plague. We docked and disembarked at St.Petersburg and after considerable stamping of papers by the serious looking Russian officials, we met our lovely guide for the day, Helena. We were the only ones on for this tour so we had her and the car with driver to ourselves for the day which was great. Dear reader...if I tell you my mock Fitbit told me we’d done more than 8 miles by bedtime, you’ll get some idea how intense it was. In the day we covered the Egyptian stuff, St. Isaacs Cathedral, the Square in front of the Winter Palace as the weather was great and fewer crowds than on our scheduled day of Sunday, the Peter and Paul fortress and the the Catherine Palace at Pushkin for the Amber room!! Plus some shopping and things being pointed out too numerous to mention.
Winter Palace

Winter Palace

. Catherine Palace

Catherine Palace


The tour finished after 6pm so we were left to forage for food ( weirdly an excellent Belgian beer place,Kriek - very popular with locals) before the driver collected us to get to the station for the Moscow sleeper. Very grand cabin with a high tech bathroom including the most precisely aimed bidet one could ever meet! Enough said about that...

Posted by nanny0gg 13:42 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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