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.
Our 2nd and final day in St Petersburg started with an early breakfast, then off ashore to join the 2nd installment of our Grand Tour with Alla Tours. Although we breezed through immigration yesterday, we still departed the ship about 15 minutes early. However, immigration was even faster. With no queues, we walked straight up to a booth handed over our passports, which were scanned and within a couple of minutes were in the terminal.
While yesterday was a very busy day, with minimal commuting between stops, today would be a slower day with a canal cruise, hydrofoil ride and a couple of 1 hour drives through the outlying areas.
After a delicious lunch in a 5-star restaurant, we re-boarded the mini-bus to visit more of downtown St Petersburg’s spectacular attractions. This afternoon’s schedule includes a couple of Russian Orthodox churches and another palace, which is still being restored. The tour included both the opulence of the formal rooms and the rather stark confines of the basement.
Departing the restaurant, it was a short drive to our first stop, which included passing the Faberge Museum, as we drove along the banks of the Fontanka River. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time in the schedule to visit this museum.
Enjoy the many photographs of the remainder of our first day in St. Petersburg.
Departing the ship, you pass through immigration, before accessing the passenger terminal. Having read and heard of potential delays, we departed the ship well before our Alla Tours meeting time. However, this was one of the shortest and smoothest transits through immigration we have ever experienced. The Russian officials had every booth open, resulting in very short queues. We had 1 couple ahead of us, so within 5 minutes of departing the ship, we were in the passenger terminal, where we met the Alla Tours representatives.
An excellent start to 2 very busy days in St Petersburg, which I will cover in 4 posts.
In the 1600’s, the ruling Swedish colonists, constructed a fort at the mouth of the Neva River. During the Great Northern War, Tsar Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, won those coastal lands, providing Russia with his long sought Baltic coastline. On winning control, he inaugurated the city of St Petersburg in 1703, with construction of Peter and Paul Fortress.
A very new city by European standards, its magnificent architecture, river and canal network has the city frequently referred to as, “Venice of the North”. A very apt reference.
During WWI, St Petersburg was deemed to sound too German, so the Tsar changed the name to Petrograd, which was subsequently changed to Leningrad, by the communists, after the 1917 revolution. In 1991, the citizens voted on renaming the city, with the majority favouring a return to St Petersburg.