St. Petersburg has provided a historic stage since the day Peter The Great ordained it's construction on the banks of the Neva. In it's relatively short history the city is younger than New York but St. Petersburg has witnessed the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, three shattering revolutions and civil war. The city survived a long and tragic seige during WW2 when it became a symbol of Russian resistance to Natzi invasion.
The city is criss-crossed by canals and the architecture features a mix of styles from ornate Russian Baroque churches to neo-classical palaces making it one of the architectural treasure of the world.
What a beautiful city! The architecture, the colours, the people, a nice big modern bus with a very competent driver and Alla as our awesome tour guide and it was a nice sunny day.
St. Petersburg is the westernmost city in Russia and the River Nevs runs through the metropolis emptying into the eastern tip of the Baltic sea. The population is 4,879,566 people and unemployment is only 1%. Our guide Alla felt that it was due to being such a large city. I wonder if it's possibly due to the average climate being cool to cold as people couldn't be jobless and homeless from October - April with an average of 15º F. like they can and are in cities that enjoy much warmer temperatures. St. Petersburg is a very clean city, not a wayward paper was seen and it was a Sunday. Some buildings didn't have enough character to maintain and they looked rather old and shabby but not derelict. The facades of a lot of character/period buildings was ornate and beautiful and often the colour or the combination of colour and trim is the indication of the age of the building. Such historical gems as the majestic palaces and churches will always be painted in their same colours. Many busts and statues were seen and St. Petersburg Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood surely was the most beautiful sight. It was constructed on the site of the 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander 11 and is a visual feast of vibrant ceramic tiles and Russian ambiance. The picturesque canals, fountains and bridges of the Neva, Fontanka and Moika Rivers give St. Petersburg the nickname "Venice of the North" St. Petersburg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our bur stopped at a souvenir store for 30 mins where we enjoyed a complimentary drink of Russian vodka which was quite mild and easy to drink. They make it with a variety of flavors like hot peppers and horseradish to honey, fruits and berries. Ten percent of Russia's income comes from their vodka. I bought Russian chocolate which was very good but passed on the caviar and of course i wouldn't touch the furs for anything. There was also the traditional matrioshka dolls, wooden Easter eggs and lacquer boxes along with jewelry and t-shirts, hats and umbrellas and more. They accept almost any money from around the world but most people pay with Rubles or Euros. I am hoping they'll serve a beet root Borsch in our dining room tonight so we can try more of the flavours of Russia and perhaps a Kvas beer would be nice too. The Regal chefs do very well in serving regional foods wherever we go. Russia is the fourth largest manufacturer of beer in the world but tea would be welcomed as well and 82% of the population of Russia consumes it daily. National sport is of course ice hockey but under construction we saw a huge round building that will be a soccer stadium.
Some useful words to know when visiting Russia are:
Is invite.......excuse me
I was so glad i had no need to say "Take me back to the ship" it happened automatically this time! We were in time for lunch and chose Alfredo's Pizzeria where we both ordered a Hawaiian thin crust. I drank a whole bottle of sparkling mineral water and then we were offered a sweet green alcohol drink made with limes which i enjoyed. Two alcohol drinks in ONE day....that's more than i usually drink in a year.
Monument to Nicholas 1856 - 1859
St. Isaac's Square Monument to Nicholas 1856-59