Well we arrived in St Petersburg at 7:00AM in style as we travelled on the Red Arrow train from Moscow, Grand Class, so we had our own toilet and shower. It is now the only way to travel. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to check in until 2.00 we booked a walking tour with Peter’s Walk. We learnt a bit about where Fyodor Dostoyevsky lived and some of the areas mentioned in Crime And Punishment as well as seeing some of the main areas and buildings of St Petersburg.
Next stop; The Fabergé Museum. It would be rude not to. We had already seen some of the Fabergé eggs and jewellery in The Armoury of the Moscow Kremlin but our guide in Ekaterinburg, Konstantin, recommended this museum to us. The museum is in the restored Shuvalov Palace and was created by the Russian ogliarch Viktor Vekselberg who is using some of his spare cash to attempt to buy back as much of the Russian heritage that was sold off during the Soviet era.
A little note about the eggs: Tsar Alexander III and later, his son, Nicholas II, would each year give their wives jewelled Fabergé Easter eggs, totalling 50 imperial eggs which are now scattered around the world.
As the museum is sitting on the bank of the Fontanka River we could do a boat trip straight from outside the building, after a little lunch of course, can’t miss a meal! St Petersburg was the vision of Peter The Great and he was trying to emulate Venice from what we gather. So you need to see St Petersburg from the water to fully appreciate it.
Right, we’re in St Petersburg so we have to do the Hermitage. Us and 10 000 other people it would appear. Luckily we prebooked the tickets and got in when the doors opened so the first hour was OK but once the coach and boat loads of guided groups started to steam through it did become unpleasant and a little frightening for some but we got our time so we escaped early having seen some amazing things:
Now this may look like your average gilded peacock in a glass case but it is in fact a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds. It was manufactured by the entrepreneur James Cox in the 2nd half of the 18th century and through the influence of Grigory Potemkin it was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781. Click here to see this clock in action.
After the hustle and bustle of the Hermitage in the morning we decided to unwind in the gardens of Peterhof Palace. Another one of Peter The Greats creations; we had heard about the gardens that had gravity fed fountains, no pumps.
We were not quite ready for what we were about to see:
Caviar and vodka.
We are almost at the end of our stay in Russia and we have not had any caviar or vodka, the staple synonymous with Russian cuisine. Time to rectify this omission.
The last item on our tourist trail of St Petersburg is a night cycle. This period of summer in St Petersburg is know as the White Nights as it doesn’t get dark due to it being the northern most city. Also all the bridges spanning the Neva River through St Petersburg are drawbridges and in the early hours of the morning they are all raised to allow boats to travel along the river.
Our final stop in Russia is over and we loved it. We loved all of Russia, well the bits that we were lucky enough to see, and there’s plenty more left for when we want to come back. We left every place feeling enriched but wanting a little bit more. Perfect.
Right, what’s for dinner?