To St. Petersburg round the Baltic Cruise - St Petersburg at last

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St Petersburg

The panorama North-East from the St. Petersburg lighthouses towards the SS Peter & Paul Fortress

The Saga Sapphire is a rather big ship for 700 passengers, so had to berth at the new Cruise Terminal some way out of the city, dooming us to a coach ride into the centre. I escorted the St. Petersburg panoramic tour part one, much the same as last year with, perhaps, even better weather, sharing the commentary with Irena, who was grateful, as I knew stuff she did not e.g. the true story about Tchaikovsky's death when we went past the Law School & she had a sore throat. When we got back to the ship, she gracefully said she did not expect an 'English Gentleman' to know so much Russian history but she was only too happy to give me the microphone. Naturally, one guest put in a complaint about my 'ego trip'. You cannot please some people. Our first stop was at the 'lighthouses' on the North Bank of the Neva, which gives good views of the main city, albeit into the Sun.

The sphinx at the lighthouses

St Peter & St Paul Fortress

One of the two lighthouses

At the base of a lighthouse

Then to the giant 'rubbish shop', where souvenirs abound & on to the Cruiser Aurora, the ship gave the signal to start the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 by firing a blank shell. However, unlike last year, one can no longer walk round it. The horrendous traffic truncated the photo stops but we had a quick one with illegal parking at the wedding cake Smolny Cathedral. We were back to the ship late: at 1255. Avis' trip was much later: 1440 but the Veranda still had some food for us. Avis had had a wonderful time, as it had not been clear that the tour she was on was to the Peterhof.

Smolny Cathedral

We snoozed after & were up for an early & abbreviated dinner at 5, the waiters sensibly offering a small portion option. Then, our coaches picked us up & after our native guide, Tamara did some chat, she dried up so I took over. We drove to the Hermitage & spent about 2.5 hours walking around it in peace & quiet, looking at largely old paintings & too many of the 'school of', which would only have been in the basement of the Tate. Avis' coach pax were close behind mine & I had so many people taking photos that I had trouble keeping my herd together. Eventually, we found a room, quite long but not very wide, with an orchestra across it facing widely stretched seating, not ideal. Nor was the acoustic, with a reverberation period of about 3.5 seconds, so the notes all smeared together. Although it was a reduced St. Pete's State Orchestra, they played: Mozart's "Don Giovanni" Overture; Rossini's "Italian Girl" Overture; Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Nigh't Dream" Overture; the Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo; Tchaikovsky's Waltz from the Serenade for Strings & the Polonaise from "Eugene Onegin" & the Glinka Waltz Suite. 5 our of 7 loud items! It was deafening. There were drinks after, thank goodness but someone said my talks were rubbish, 'cobbled together' & Rosalind's were so much better. (Someone else had said the exact opposite, because I ad-lib to bullet points & Rosalind reads). I could have done without that. I suspect he did not like his pretty little old wife 'liking' me. We had a so-called Russian Buffet on the boat after, very nice though & were not in bed before midnight.

Day Two: Palace trips on these links:-

Hit this link for our trip to
The Menshikov Palace

Hit this link for slides of
The Yusupov Palace from 2011

We have to stay overnight in St. Pete's, as the Russians want to extract the largest possible amount of real currency from us & who can blame them?
In the evening of the second day, we sailed back down the Gulf of Finland on our way to Tallinn.

This Cruises Index Page

Port 2 - Stockholm (Sweden)

Port 3 - Helsinki (Finland)

Port 5 - Tallinn (Estonia)

Port 6- Warnemunde (Germany)

Port 7 - Oslo (Norway)

Previous page - Helsinki

More St. Pete's pictures from 2011

Next page - Tallinn

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Contact: Ken Baldry at 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him
URL: Last revised 2/12/2012 ©2012 Ken Baldry. All rights reserved.