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St Petersburg - Wednesday, 3 September 2014

City tour with lunch in a local restaurant. Visit the Hermitage Museum

semi-overcast 17 °C

We arrived in St Petersburg at 8am and were ashore by 8.30 am and on the bus for our morning tour of the city. We were absolutely blown away by this magnificent city. It is amazing! The buildings have to be seen to be believed. They are only two to three storeys high as no building was to be higher than the Tsar's palace and modern buildings have continued to honour that rule. We just went crazy, swivelling our heads from left to right, trying not to miss anything.

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5 million people live in St Petersburg and it is the home town of our guide Svetlana, who lives here with her husband and 6 year old daughter. It is on the Neva River and the streets are extremely clean. It consists of 42 islands and has 65 rivers and canals. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, one of the Romanofs. It has only 60 sunny days a year and only 30 of them are full sun! From 1712 to 1918, St Petersburg was the capital of Russia, then it became Moscow.

Twenty four percent of the population live in communal apartments. One million residents died in 1941 during the German blockade of the city. That winter it dropped to 35 below.

Church on Spilled Blood is just stunning, in fact I think I like it better that St Basil's in Moscow. It is also known as the Resurrection Church of Our Saviour and was built on the spot when Tsar Alexander II was assassinated on1 March 1881.

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St Isaac's Cathedral is one of the world's largest cathedrals and was completed in 1858.

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After our amazing city tour, we stopped for lunch in a restaurant named "Restaurant".

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Then off the the Hermitage for the afternoon. How can words describe this place? It was the Winter Palace of the Russian Royal family. It would take 27 kilometres to walk all the way through it, it consists of 5 buildings, it has 3 million pieces on display and if you took one minute to look at every piece, it would take you 8 years to get through it all. You hardly notice the art because the floors, walls and ceilings are so ornately decorated that they take your breath away.

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The battery on my tablet conked out not long after our tour started, but at least Phil kept taking millions of photos. There was an opportunity to stay an extra hour at the Hermitage, but most of us decided to come back to the ship to have a rest before the Captain's Farewell Dinner tonight. I have never been so exhausted in my life!

We had dinner with Jose and Jim and Brian and Anna and after dinner, Helen and Neil joined us so that Brian and Helen could work out if they were at the East State School at the same time. We then adjourned to the Tsar Lounge and while Phil and Ross sang with the entertainer guy, Gail and I and the Canadian girls danced for quite a while. I finally dragged myself away and went to bed as it had been a very long and tiring day but totally enjoyable.

Posted by gaddingabout 17:07 Archived in Russia

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