Apparently Mystery DIY Man looks Russian. The ship crew keeping asking if he’s Russian. Perhaps it is the new haircut? Today was our only organised tour off the boat. The tour meant all our visas were included so it was much more straight forward.
St Petersburg is very European looking, it is quite beautiful. Our tour started by visiting Peter and Paul Fortress – all the tsars and tsarinas are buried there. The Russian Mint is also in the same area. The cathedral really gives you a sense of just how opulent the buildings are going to be. Everything has gold gilding. For some reason a lady with next to no mobility thought a walking tour would be just the ticket for her so we had to wait 30min for her (at the first stop).
Next we headed through the university and stopped at a tourist centre. Which is really a large souvenir shop, thankfully decent souvenirs. I was on a mission to find a hand painted set of Matryoshka dolls. Turns out they had far too many options and I couldn’t decide in time. We then headed for the Church on Spilled Blood which was the sight I was most looking forward to. It is an amazing Russian orthodox church built in the Russian style. However, they have no rules for parking around the area so we couldn’t stop and since we were running at least 30min late at this point we drove past (mobility lady was not my friend). We did manage to stop at St Isaac’s Cathedral which was also very busy with G20 guests. We were impressed to learn that each of the columns is one solid piece of granite. They must be insanely heavy.
Next stop lunch and the Nevsky Prospeck. I think the least said about much the better. I wish they’d have taken us to a place where Russians eat, rather than a tourist place. But I guess they had to cater for the oldies. After lunch we spent 2hrs in the Hermitage. We only managed to do part of the first floor. The place is immense and filled with so many stunning works. Apparently if you spend 1min in front of every work it’ll take you 6yrs to see everything… Without any breaks.
Before we got back on the ship we had one more tourist centre stop where I managed to find something I wanted. Phew.