A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

St. Petersburg, Russia-Formerly Leningrad 1924-91

There's something eerily fascinating about going to St. Petersburg (Leningrad). It's probably a combination of Cold War Remembrance (this was, after all, once an Evil Empire). It doesn't help that you receive from your ship a 2 page Customs and Immigration instructions and you will have to walk past stern-faced, uniformed customs officials at the pier before you can experience the city yourself, and you've read on the Internet it could take a couple of hours to get off the ship. But, not the case! We had our 4 requirements, (no visa, we were covered under our ships umbrella visa, but had to be on a tour) in order and the officer, a woman, nice smile, and welcomed us to her country! Because we were taken a 2 Day Tour (10 hrs/Day) and on coach #1, we were on our way in just a few minutes! It is a very wonderful place, like a living museum, especially that we were there during White Nights, when the sun barely sets and by then the clocks had rolled back 3 hours since we boarded in England. Definitely an endurance event, flesh-pressing at times, and brain drain with trying to take in as many historical facts as possible from our wonderful guide. With all its grandiose architecture, spread across 42 islands, 30 canals and 342 bridges (1000 counting the small bridges). A city of palaces with gold, marble, jewels, amber-paneled room (photography prohibited in this room) and closets for 20,000 dresses is impressive! Day 1- Traveled 12 miles from St. Petersburg to Catherine's Palace in Pushkin. During World War II Nazi invasion, this palace, and many other palaces and churches, suffered significant damage, with plundering, burning and later with Soviet era neglect. They did hide many of the original painting, mosaics, sculptures and even the amber panels from the amber room. It has been painstaking work and has taken many years to restore it to its original splendor.

Posted by 2seniortraveler 17:00 Archived in Russia Comments (0)