Date: 16 July 2017
Location: Viking Akun moored in Saint Petersburg
We woke up to find that we had already arrived in Saint Petersburg and were moored next to another boat. It was a bit noisy for 05.00. It turned out that all 4 Viking boats that cruise in Russia were now moored in Saint Petersburg.
At 09.45 we set off with the guide Vadim for The Hermitage Gallery. The weather was reasonable: a bit overcast, but dry and warm. Annoyingly, the weather for the following day and Tuesday, when we would be outside more, didn’t look so good. After a short period of queuing, we entered the gallery along with thousands of others! The Hermitage is a spectacular building with many fabulous paintings, sculptures etc., but it is difficult to fully appreciate a lot of them because of the huge number of other visitors blocking your view. Vadim gave us a very informative guided tour of the place which lasted about 1 hour 20 minutes. We then had spare time which we used to get a little to eat and drink as well as buying a small guide book. We went back to see some Egyptian artefacts, but most of these turned out to be part of a visiting exhibition from a museum in Turin. Unfortunately, it was forbidden to photograph these exhibits, which was slightly annoying. To be fair, we both had loads of photographs taken elsewhere in the gallery!
In the evening we went to the Alexandrinsky Theatre for a performance of Swan Lake. The Saint Petersburg Jazz Festival was going on at the same time, so the streets were buzzing. The guide was called Maria: young, pretty and very enthusiastic! The performance lasted over 2 hours, but there were 2 intervals. This was fortunate, as the seating in the old theatre was not very comfortable. We felt the ballerina wearing the black costume (Odile) was slightly better than the one wearing the white costume (Odetta). We only realised at the end that the same ballerina played both parts! Wosog was adamant that the pricipal male had buttock implants. As a first experience of ballet, I found it very enjoyable, but the surroundings no doubt enhanced things!