Date: 17 July 2017
Location: Viking Akun moored in Saint Petersburg
Another great breakfast. Wosog had pancakes and I had eggs Benedict (one egg). Weather today is pretty bad: heavy rain showers predicted.
At 08.15 set off for the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, which is a small city near Saint Petersburg. The palace was almost completely destroyed by the Germans in the Second World War, but it has been lovingly restored with the help of records and photographs. Restoration is still going on, and we were told that the interior of the 5-domed church is next. The rooms are absolutely amazing: one huge room, for example, has a painting on the ceiling which must be one of the biggest in the World. Photographs without flash are allowed everywhere except for the spectacular amber room that has 3 walls decorated with amber. After seeing round the palace we went out into the enormous garden, which is somewhat reminiscent of Versailles. Fortunately the weather stayed dry, if pretty overcast.
In the afternoon we went on a walking tour in Saint Petersburg with Sasha, who is quite a comedian. We got the bus to a nearby metro station and met up with a long-haired student who was helping out with the excursion. The metro here is not as pretty as the one in Moscow, but it seems equally busy. The escalators are extremely long. We managed to keep together as a group and got off at a stop near Nevsky Prospect, Saint Petersburg’s main street. We visited a fancy food store and took a few pictures. We then walked along the street with Sasha pointing out various items of interest. We visited the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, but we didn’t go inside. We walked from there to Palace Square and took some more pictures there. We then walked along the side of the River Neva till we got to the statue of the bronze horseman (Peter the Great) . From there we walked through the park to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, but there was not enough time to go in. Amazingly, the weather was much better than predicted and it didn’t start to rain till we arrived back at the boat.
We didn’t go to the optional cossack dancing concert. Instead, we went to the bar and eventually joined up again with Isabel and her Australia-New Zealand group.