St Petersburg, Russia - Day 1 - 28th May - Part 1

Day 7 of our cruise - half way! Almost!

Sadly Garrie's leg is such worse today so after breakfast he headed to the doctor. A thorough examination, two injections, a leg brace, pills and a walking stick later it was deemed not to be life threatening and Garrie was pleased as he truly thought he had snapped a tendon in yesterday's incident. No trip for him today though but we are hoping he will be able to go on tomorrow's.

It is a grey day with expected temps of 12 - 20. 

As my tour isn't until after lunch we headed up (Garrie via lifts of course) to the sky lounge and had fun with a couple of rounds of trivia. We failed the first round miserably with a score of 6.5 out of 15, though the top score was only 12 (I've never seen The Grinch movie let alone know what the dog is called!), but the pictorial movie kiss round we gained 13/25 though anything slightly old Garrie thought should be Gone with the Wind - well at least he was right once. Top score was 22 so I don't think we could be classified as movie fanatics.

So it's off for an early lunch and then I head alone to Russian immigration. We've been told they do not smile so we'll see. The sheer number of tours available for St Petersburg was mind boggling and today we chose:

Rivers and canals of St Petersburg and Yussupov Palace - 4 hours - strenuous

This tour provides a window into the deadly intrigue of Yusupov Palace and takes you down the canals of St.Petersburg. The Yusupovs were among Russia's wealthiest families. Yet behind the opulence of their home, lies the tale of Rasputin, murdered within these very walls. descend to the cellar, whe Madame Tussaud's wax figures retell those fateful events. afterwards, explore St, Petersburg on a canal cruise past historic sites, including St.IsaacsCathedral.

as it turns out we headed into town in the coach and were stuck in traffic for a while due to celebrations being held this weekend for the 313th anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg. (27th May). At one point our driver turned down a street he clearly usually takes only to have to reverse out as there were private cars parked in such a way that he could not get through.
My overall impression of the city, driving in, was of a grey, grim and somewhat grimey place (not helped by heavy cloud). It's clear the majority live in soulless apartment blocks devoid of greenery. We were told many of the streets are called "lines" eg line number 1, something to do with Peter the Great wanting to make them all canals but it was too difficult so they were filled in after Peter's death. Oh and a number of the bridges are numbered too is the winter bridge and the second winter bridge. Imaginative lot.

We were told we would be in the rivers and canals first and as we reached our destination the wealth and opulence of past history revealed itself. That they managed to camouflage so many buildings during the 900 day siege in WWII is remarkable. Our boat was delayed (also due to celebrations) and when it arrived it looked like this.
As we passed a mind boggling array of buildings I'll do my best to describe what I can remember but a lack of Internet means I can't check my notes on things so any St. P? Experts forgive my mistakes please. I do know that the next few pics are of the Winter Palace, which is now part of the Hermitage Museum.
A couple of these pics were also taken from the bus I think. This is the golden spire of the Admiralty building.
And this is the top of the column they erected after the defeat of Napoleon.
This is the glorious St Isaac Cathedral. It is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world (1 being St Peter's Rome and 2 being St Paul's London). The dome is covered in pure gold.
This is the final palace by the Romanov's in 1912.
In this you can see the golden spires of the Peter & Paul Cathedral, with the dark Peter & Paul Fortress in front of it, Peter the Great's son was its first resident.  This area is also considered the birthplace of the city.
This is one of the two Egyptian Sphinx on the river.
Two things about the cruise. It was bloody freezing out on the deck and you definitely had to pick your moments to stand up. We were on both the Moika and Neva rivers.
This is the beautiful Trinity bridge. This was either designed by Gustav Eiffel, or along the lines of - static on the headset at just the wrong moment.
This building is known as the Engineer's Castle or Michael's Palace. It was built by Catherine's son Paul, as he felt at risk in the main palace. 46 days after moving in here, he was assassinated.
Ok here are a few more palaces etc. that I'm not sure if.
This is the academy of fine arts.
So many monuments and bits and bobs.
This is another part of the Hermitage.
Given the size of this post I think I'll tackle the splendours of the Yusupov Palace in an entirely new post.