St Petersburg was undoubtedly the port of call I was most excited about on our recent cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line on the Baltic Sea. Reason being it was the only city I hadn’t been to (not counting Rostock) and I would visit a new country: Russia!
We booked ourselves on the 1-day Deluxe Tour with SPB Tours.
It was a cloudy and rainy day. Our first stop was the Hermitage Museum.
The Hermitage is the world‘s largest museum of art and culture housing the most impressive works from different eras.
We saw works of art from the likes of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vince (picture below), Monet and Van Gogh.
One I was particularly drawn to was entitled “Roman Charity” by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the story of Pero, a woman whose act of secretly breastfeeding her father who was sentenced to death by starvation, impressed the officials and won his release.
I was also drawn to Rembrandt’s 1634 “Descent from the Cross” for its incredible lighting effects.
It was room upon room of impressive architecture housing world famous works of art.
Little Ilyas also couldn’t help but shine his dazzling smile.
One room housed the Peacock Clock featuring life-sized mechanical birds.
This same room had many impressive mosaics including this one below on the floor.
We had a quick photo stop at the famous Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood which was covered in scaffolding.
We were then taken on a subway ride and saw the opulent and impressive Metro stations.
No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without a visit to Peterhof, often referred to as the “Russian Versailles”.
We had a tour of the Fountain Park and Upper Gardens.
The Grand Cascade which comprises of 64 different fountains and over 200 bronze statues was truly impressive.
A walk around the gardens covered in the fall foliage was a beautiful one.
Next stop was to Pushkin to visit Catherine’s Palace, named after Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great.
We were told that the decadent Grand Hall covered in gold and mirrors can be rented out and had in the past been the location for the wedding of a famous Russian singer as well as a charity benefit with Elton John serenading the rich and famous.
The legendary amber room (where photography isn’t allowed) took over 20 years to recreate and cost more than 12 million dollars. The picture below is of the Amber Room taken from its entrance. Amber is fossilised tree resin and is used as a gemstone today.
The Green Dining Room which marks the start of the private apartments in the northern part of the palace had a very different feel compared to the previous rooms.
Beware if you are traveling with children, strollers/prams are not allowed. The guided tour will take a minimum of one hour. We only had one baby carrier between us for both kids and that proved to be challenging. We ended the visit with a walk around the palace gardens.
I had no idea how huge St Petersburg was. Peterhof is 34km away from the Hermitage and it took us about an hour to get there. Catherine’s Palace is 38km away from Peterhof and it took us also about an hour to get there.
It was a very long day with a lot of museums (not exactly the most kid friendly thing to do and we sure paid the price with both kids screaming and crying wanting only me). Nevertheless as we were there for just one day, we had to make the most of it.
We did a mandatory stop for some souvenirs and came across these funny matryoshka dolls of Hitler and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
The prices for the Faberge eggs were astounding. This beautiful egg below with the golden carriage costs 1320 USD.