We docked in St. Petersburg early on the morning of July 5, made it through an inquisitive passport control station, and ran through the rain to meet our tour guide, Dmitry. We hopped onto a bus and began a three day sprint of experiencing and learning about this fascinating city and its history.
By the end of the three days, we joked that we had seen enough palaces and churches to last us a lifetime. There was Peter and Paul’s Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peterhof, Catherine the Great’s Palace, the Church of Spilled Blood, Pavlovsky’s Palace, and the famed Hermitage. Each filled with golden sculptures, crystal chandeliers, intricate mosaic installations, colorful painted ceilings. Even more spectacular than the decor were the stories of the royalty who occupied these extravagant palaces. We learned of the joy and tragedy they all experienced during different periods in this country.
One of the highlights of our visit in Russia was seeing the ballet. We went to Makhailovsky theatre, a cozy and beautiful theatre housed in a large yellow building in the city centre, and saw a performance of Sleeping Beauty.
And along the way we sampled traditional Russian cuisine, some of which we preferred more than others. Pirozhkis (meat pies) and borsch for lunch; pelmeni, vinagret salads, and stroganoff for dinner. And a little bit of vodka (they give you a taste for free at some souvenir shops) because, when in Russia…