Wednesday, May 9, 2018

St Petersburg and the Hermitage

Blessed with another sunny day in St. Petersburg, we boarded the tour minibus at 7:45am and headed to the river for a boat tour. The canals we saw were lined with beautiful palaces and often crossed by ornate bridges.

The boat let us off at Catherine the Great’s Hermitage, which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of art; DiVinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Botticelli to name a few. The intricate peacock clock that Catherine the Great gave her lover was truly a work of art. They even had Egyptian mummies and Ancient Greek vases. I could have easily spent days there. The Hermitage is actually spread throughout five palaces connected to each other. It’s said that if you spent 10 seconds with each item in the Hermitage collection it would takes 9 years to see everything. Maria, our guide made sure we made the most of our time and led us directly to where we needed to go. She really knows her art history.

We stopped for a lunch at a quaint Russian restaurant with enchanting murals on the walls.

The ornate, onion domed
Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood was our next stop. This memorial church was built on the sight where Alexander II was fatally wounded by an anarchist’s bomb. The area of cobblestone street where he was when it happened is enshrined inside the church. Fresh flowers are put there daily.

We passed the bronze equestrian statue of Peter the Great.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral was our next stop. This is the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg and the fourth largest in the world.

I was really excited to visit the sumptuous Yusupov Palace. This was the place where the infamous Rasputin was murdered. First he was poisoned, then shot. When his murderer went for help to move the body, they found that Rasputin was trying to escape so they they shot him twice more (once in the head) and deposited the body in the frozen river. A coroner found that there was water in his lungs...he died of drowning!

We stopped at a souvenir shop for some shopping and a shot of vodka before returning to the ship.

Our guide Maria and driver Alexi truly made our short time in St Petersburg truly wonderful. I would strongly recommend SPB Tours to anyone visiting St. Petersburg.

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