Entries in Russia (1)

Monday
Sep172012

stunning St. Petersburg

Alas, ONE MONTH after we stepped off our Baltic Cruise, I'm finally ready to report on our final favorite days of the whole trip: St Petersburg! Bascially, this entire trip was around our 2 days in this amazing city. I wanted to see this site below :)

Of course, I'm exaggerating a tad, but we were super excited about our time in Russia and had 2 days jammed packed to see as much as humanly possible! When we woke up and saw the blue skies, it was just the icing on the cake of what would be 2 of our favorite travel days ever thus far.

So, in case you're wondering, it's a little tricky to visit Russia on your own. You need a visa and that can be a complicated process. We also needed a Visa when we entered Turkey last spring, but it was a matter of walking to the counter and forking over $80 when you arrived to the airport. Such is not the case when you enter Russia. You need to plan ahead of time and I've heard you either need to be visiting someone who lives there or have a set tour that you're traveling with. In the case of the cruise, we opted NOT to be 4 of 50 on a big bus tour and booked a private van tour with a guide and driver instead. We'd warned them that we'd be traveling with 3 children (our friends, the Lians plus us, made 7 total) and our guide, Katya was fantastic with the kids. She also has a 10 yr old daughter, so she was very patient and kind with them. She LOVES the history of her city and we got so much out of our visit as a result.

So.. let's start with day 1. We started at the Peter and Paul Fortress where Peter himself laid the foundation for St Petersburg in 1703 . He basically built it from the ground up in about 10 years to become the Imperial, more European style capital of Russia. He'd traveled all over Europe and took the best of what he saw and created this grand city. It reminds me of a colorful Paris. So many grand stone buildings, but all in cupcake colors.. minty green, cotton candy pink, robin's egg blue, all along the Neva River. Every building and cathedral is just over-the-top guilded and fantastic. We took a private boat tour on the canals and were able to see it from the River.


We went inside St Isaac's Cathedral, one of the largest domed buildings in the world, and then headed to Peterhof, The "Russian Versailles". The main attraction is outside at the Grand Cascade and Samson fountain.. a gorgous site to behold.

We certainly were in for a treat, however, as we were able to get tickets to Swan Lake at the Russian Ballet. It was absolutely amazing and we all LOVED it! I hear it's are coming to Brussels 4-6 December and I HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, I'll give you the link so you can get your tickets! :)  The whole family loved it and it was truly one of those experiences that we'll treasure for the rest of our lives.

As you can imagine, we were tuckered out after a crazy long day!! But we were up and at 'em and ready for round 2 the next day.

First up was the Catherine the Great's summer palace. It was incredible inside and out.
We headed back into the city to go inside the much anticipated, Church of the Holy Blood.
And finally, we had a laughable 1.5 hours in the largest art museum in the world, The Hermitage. (ps.. the Smithsonian is the largest museum complex, but in terms of exhibits and floor space in a single place, The Hermitage is it.) The works of art, only rivaled by the Louvre, it was such a treat to spend a little time here.

there's about 300 other photos I could share with you, but I'll stop here! St Petersburg truly was amazing and it only left me wanting to go back, as 2 days was certainly not enough!! But we're thankful for the time we had, and 2 days is about all the kids could handle at this age. So that concludes the travel portion of our Baltic adventure. I hope you enjoyed it and have added one or 2 of these places to your own list!

Next up: My cruise report card!