It took another two full days' sailing to take us from Klaipeda to St. Petersburg. The sea was soooooo calm. It was actually very uncanny. The water looked black (presumably because it is so deep) and the only movement on it was the little ripples we made as we glided along. There wasn't even another ship to be seen; it was like we were the only vessel sailing. Have a look at the lovely sunsets we had as they were reflected on the water.
We arrived in St. Petersburg on May the 23rd. The weather was glorious - definitely not what you would expect at this time of year. We were to stay two days in St. Petersburg and, as it happened, President Putin was also in town. There were extra security measures in place which affected us slightly on our trips but nothing much.
It isn't possible to go into Russia without a visa so we opted to do the organised trips for which a group visa is provided (meaning we didn't need to do anything). There aren't enough superlatives to describe St. Petersburg; it is truly magnificent.
On our first day we visited the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral, both on the same site, and also had a boat cruise on the Neva,Fontanka and Moyka rivers and various canals.
The Peter and Paul Fortress housed part of the city's garrison and served as a high security political jail. Among the inmates was Peter's own rebellious son, Alexei, plus Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin's older brother, Alexander.
That's a real person dressed as an executioner. I don't know how they stuck the heat, completely dressed in black!
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. On top of the Cathedral's gilded spire (i.e. it is covered with gold leaf - yes, real gold not just something gold-coloured) stands a golden angel holding a cross. My photos don't show it very well unfortunately.
It's hard to explain how impressive this cathedral is. Our group was treated to a rendition of the Lord's Prayer sung acapella by five members of the Russian the resident Russian Orthodox choir. We were so enthralled that we bought one their CDs even though it cost 1000 rubles.
We walked away from the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral through this impressive gate, heading to the pier where our canal boat trip was to start.
It was a great way to get a look at St. Petersburg, seeing as many of the landmarks as possible. It was also nice and cool!
|St. Isaac's Cathedral|
|A blast from the past?|
|Peter and Paul Cathedral from the river. See all the sunbathers on the shore?|
After a great day of sightseeing we spent that night onboard, still docked in St. Petersburg. We were treated to a beautiful sunset.
The next day, the 24th of May, we started off bright and early to do our second trip. This started with another canal cruise - basically the same as before but leaving from a different pier.
The Winter Palace isn't really on a slope - that's just me trying to take a photo from the canal boat!
Next stop was The Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood which was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and is dedicated to his memory. No photo can do this place justice; it is breathtakingly spectactular. Look at those onion domes!
Inside, the walls and ceiling (all 7500 square metres) are made up of intricately detailed mosaics, depicting mainly Biblical scenes and figures with patterned borders setting off each picture.
Here's a final picture of the outside.
To finish off our trip we were taken to a souvenir shop where they had beautiful Russian dolls, lacquer boxes, paintings, furs and eggs. Everything was very expensive so we just bought a small egg. It is hinged and when opened there is a tiny replica of the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood inside.
Well that was the end of our stay in St. Petersburg. It has certainly whet our appetite and we'd love to go back again to see inside some of the palaces and art galleries. Anyway, we sailed off into the sunset (sorry, yet another sunset photo!). This time we actually passed another ship.
Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoyed St. Petersburg. My next post will be about Tallinn and Copenhagen and then that's the end of the cruiselog posts (I think).
Oh, I nearly forgot; I managed to make some progress on my cotton blanket. See what you think.
I'm using the 200 Crochet Blocks book by Jan Eaton though not always using the colour schemes in the book. I crocheted the St. Petersburg block before we had visited it and used more or less the colours shown in the pattern.
However, once I'd seen St. Petersburg, I decided to do another block with a different colour scheme. As I'm sure you noticed from my photos, the majority of the buildings in St. Petersburg are painted cream/buff/sand colours.
And finally, just so you know, this is the Arcadia block done in colours to suit our cruise ship.
Bye for now.