Departing Peter and Paul Fortress, we settled into the bus for the almost 1 hour trip to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, a St Petersburg suburb. It was only about 20 miles, but took almost an hour. Yes, St Petersburg traffic is similar to any major city.
For me, one of the Alla Tours selling points was rather than lunch in a fancy restaurant, they provided a quality boxed lunch to eat on the bus. We had limited time, so I was happy enjoying lunch on the bus, rather than losing an hour sight-seeing while sitting in a restaurant.
This is the 4th and final post covering our 2 days in St Petersburg. Some may say they kept the extreme opulence and more than a little gold, to the end of the tour.
Arriving in Pushkin, traffic was crazy and our driver couldn’t get close to Catherine’s Palace, so he dropped us on Garden Street, about 3 blocks from the entrance. With timed entrance tickets, this resulted in a few hundred yards of power walking.
Catherine’s Palace entrance
Originally built in 1717, by Peter the Great, for his wife Catherine, it was significantly upgraded to the current opulence and splendour by their daughter Empress Elizabeth. She specified a reconstruction to match the Palace of Versailles.
Catherine’s Palace is considered as the Imperial Family’s summer home.
Gold domes at the entrance
Catherine’s Palace declined during the Soviet era, this photograph depicts the remains before they commenced the restoration to its former glory
Before & after, our group walking along the front of Catherine’s Palace towards the main entrance
Main entrance looking down the driveway
The Palace was closed on our first day in St Petersburg, so the crowds on the day we visited were huge, with lots of large tour groups. Inside the Palace it was really busy, although the staff did try to manage the crowds by delaying entry. This resulted in about a 1 hour delay.
Enjoy a few photographs from inside the palace.
You exit to the rear of the palace, where you are free to walk the gardens at your leisure.
Catherine’s Palace rear from the gardens
Path from the palace through the gardens
Upper Bath House in the gardens
Upper pond with palace wing in background
At this point I exhausted the main camera battery, having taken so many photographs and the back up was also discharged, so I switched to Judi’s phone.
Once we walked through the gardens, our driver picked us up for the 40 minute drive to Peterhof Palace gardens. Normally the tours are dropped off at the upper gardens, but since we lost so much time at Catherine’s Palace the driver headed straight to the palace, dropping us right at the entrance.
Peterhof Palace entrance
On entering the grounds, we walked through the lower gardens towards the hydrofoil harbour. Peterhof Palace was created by Peter the Great and consists of a collection of palaces and gardens meant to replicate Versaiiles.
Peterhof Palace and gilded water garden
We had no time to visit inside the palace, but the gardens and water features were simply spectacular. Enjoy some of the photographs.
We walked along the canal leading from the palace to the hydrofoil harbour.
From palace looking out to sea and the hydrofoil harbour
The hydrofoil we took back to downtown St Petersburg
From hydrofoil looking back up the canal to the palace
Docking in downtown St Petersburg on the Neva River, close to the Winter Palace, it was a short trip on the bus back to the ship. After a quick wander through the terminal souvenir shops, we headed through immigration and returned to the ship just before departure from St Petersburg.
This completed an exceptional 2-day tour of St. Petersburg, which is a truly remarkable city, which I concur, is definitely the Venice of the North.