Two Days in St. Petersburg
During our Baltic Sea cruise, we spent two fabulous days in St. Petersburg, Russia. We had eagerly anticipated seeing St. Petersburg and hired a private tour company for our two-day excursion (see Travel Tips below for our recommendation). Our tour group was manageable at only about 12 people and our guide was extremely knowledgeable and interesting. The weather started out a little dodgy but quickly turned into a couple of glorious blue sky days. Located at the head of the Gulf of Finland (see map below), St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
This iconic church with colorful onion-domed spires was constructed from 1883 to 1907 and dedicated to Alexander II on the spot where he had been assassinated by anarchists in 1881. Construction of the church was commenced by Alexander III in memory of his father and was fully funded by the imperial family for 4.5 million rubles.
Our tour group took a morning river shuttle from city center along the Neva River into the Gulf of Finland to the majestic Peterhof Palace. We entered the palace grounds from the small harbour on the gulf side of the palace. As we walked through the gardens leading up to the palace, we knew we were somewhere special. The famed Peterhof Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain was a highlight. Our tour did not go into the palace, rather we toured the massive gardens that cover over 121 hectares (300 acres).
Palace of Catherine the Great
Thirty kilometers south of St. Petersburg is the summer residence of Catherine the Great, where construction began in 1717. It is a massive and gorgeous estate!
The Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum, located in downtown St. Petersburg along the Neva River, is one of the oldest museums in the world founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. It is a huge complex of six buildings that you cannot hope to see all in one day–but we saw plenty! I’m not a museum kind of guy (I’d rather be outdoors), but the Hermitage is a bit like the Louvre in Paris, where there is such a variety of things to see that you don’t really feel like you are in a museum.
Around St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is a gorgeous city; everywhere we went was very picturesque. There are many picturesque canals and the city center along the Neva River is just beautiful. We were in St. Petersburg only two days and we would love to go back and explore more of this majestic city.
Facts & Figures
— Peterhof Palace with its grand structures and gardens is also known as the ‘Russian Versailles’
— Peterhof’s Samson Fountain depicts Samson ripping open the jaws of a lion, which is symbolic for Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War (Sweden’s country emblem is the lion) in the early 1700s
— All of the fountains in the Peterhof gardens were all engineered in the 1700s using hydraulic pressure and operate without the use of pumps
— The Hermitage Museum’s collection of antiquities surpasses 3 million pieces and only about one third are on display; Catherine the Great began collecting art in 1764
— Over 100 kg (220 lbs) of gold were used to gild the facade of the Catherine Palace and various statues on the roof
— If any of you have ever cruised before you know that excursions booked through the cruise line (and it doesn’t matter which cruise line) are extortionate; we booked a private travel tour company called TJ Travel that we highly recommend; they ran a very professional tour, were very interesting and educational, friendly and funny at times, and knew where the crowds were thinner
— If you plan to travel around St. Petersburg on your own (without a tour company), then you must get a visitor visa processed prior to your date of arrival; we recommend using a tour company who will process your visa ahead of time (you will send them your details prior to arrival)
Psalms 4:8 – New Living Translation (NLT)
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
If you are a world trekker like us and want to become more ‘worldly’, then you will want to try our books below. Thanks to the former British Empire and current Commonwealth, the English language is widely spoken across the world, however it is spoken quite differently depending on where you are traveling. We believe the books below are essential to worldly trekkers and think you will find them both fun and informative. The books include a dictionary of everyday words and phrases, traditional cuisine, some history and culture, and other handy information. Simply click on the book covers below to find out more:
Thank you for visiting! Cheers!