Dan and I finally made it to Russia. This was on Dan's wish list - not mine. We did have a fantastic time here, but it really isn't anywhere that I would return, and neither would Dan. BUT... it was a great place to see and we had a fantastic private tour guide and driver for our 2 days here in St. Petersburg.
I did a LOT of research on St. Petersburg before our cruise. I decided on Alla Tours and it was a great decision. The 6 of us had our own driver and guide for the 2 days. Elena of Alla tours made our stop here worthwhile. She was an English professor during the school year, and a top ALLA tour guide during the summer when all the ships are sailing. She spoke excellent English and it was amazing the history she knew of her own country. Russia's history is so vast, that I found that it was hard to remember much.
This is Dan and I outside St. Isaac's Cathedral.
One of the most popular stops in St. Petersburg is the Church on the Spilled Blood. The inside is completely done in mosaics. It is incredible inside. It has only been recently reopened and I was glad we were able to go inside since this church was one of the highlights of the city.
This is one of the mosaics they have brought down to view. These were the best mosaics I have seen. We were told how all the different tiles were made and different solutions they were put in to make the exact colors that were needed. The shading and detail were unbelievable.
This is our guide, Elena, with Debbie and Rich outside the church.
After several churchs and other historical sites, we decided we wanted to try a typical Russian restaurant for lunch. This is the Idiot restaurant... named after a famous Russian author of the 1800s. It was an extremely interesting experience. They handed out the local paper in English while we waited. Our private guide for the day had to stay and help us order our lunch.
The next stop was the Hermitage Museum. This is a must stop in St. Petersburg. It is HUGE! All I can say is Thank God we had our private tour guide to lead us through the "must sees". This is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. This was the former residence of the Russian emperors.
This is me in front of one of the old fireplaces inside the museum. These were all covered in Dutch tiles and it radiated the heat. These were everywhere!
The second day of our time in St. Petersburg was taking a drive to Catherine's Palace and Peterhof. This was very interesting and probably my favorite part of this stop in Russia.
This is me outside Catherine's Palace. This was once the summer palace of the Russian tsars. It is extremely gaudy in decor.
This was a church at Peterhof.