Peter's Pages Peter's Pages
Saturday, 22nd July 2017
St. Petersburg was the centre of our cruise, a place of contrasts. In the city potholed roads and delapidated buildings which contrasted with the neat new motorway running past luxury hotels to the ideally restored Catherine's Palace. The beauty and splendour of Catherine's Palace contrasted with the vile corruption of the Romanov tsars. The guide skirted softly over the way the Nazis damaged the palace during the siege of Leningrad.

Virginia and I also went to the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, having to walk some way due to the bad traffic. The museum only has some of the eggs, which were interesting to see but not amazing. Perhaps I expected them to be more elaborate intricate puzzles, but as jewellery most were beyond expensive. The museum has other exhibits worth seeing, jade and silver ware. In both places we wore plastic shoe covers, and weren't allowed bottles of water inside. The Fabergé tour also went to the Pushkin Art Gallery where the items and their prices could be admired - I was tempted by a lacqueur box depicting an elderly cat teaching kittens about mice but the price was $800. We had a photo stop at St Isaacs Cathedral where I saw a bridal couple getting photographed. Brides and grooms go round the city to be snapped on the day. Divorce rate here is 75%.
It took a long time getting through Russian border controls both ways. When there are queues the first queue is quickest as they let that queue use the booths for the opposite directions. The officer when I was returning second time kept saying some Russian to me and not letting me back out - in the end I found she wanted my boarding card.

We avoided some of the fun that our fellow passengers had on other longer tours. One poor elderly man got mugged (could happen in any big city I know). Trips on dubious hydrofoils more like Tupolevs on skis. Unfriendly guides who refused comfort stops for elderly visitors. And being on the ship we had a good view of a Russian submarine which entered the cruise ship dock perhaps seeking a good way to celebrate the impending Russian naval day. A tug boat had to push it away.