The World Cup is set to kick-off in Russia this week. We visited the city of St Petersburg last summer while on a cruise which called at several Baltic cities. Preparations were well under way for the tournament then. I’m not sure if the subs will still be on duty in St Petersburg this week, but this view from our tour bus window caught my eye.
Travelling to Russia is a little more complicated than other places. If you make your own way there, you will need your own visa which requires you to visit the Embassy in London, have biometric data taken and hand over £38.40!
However, if you are with an official tour, like one from a cruise ship, you can enter the country on a shared visa. The only disadvantage with this is that you don’t have the freedom to explore, not even when the tour bus stops!
On one occasion, we had stopped at the ‘official’ souvenir store, the only shop we were allowed to visit! One of our party tried to walk down the street from our stop, and was immediately brought back by a man in a black suite!
Highlights of St Petersburg
Some of the highlights from our trip included:
- The Grand Palace at Peterhof - The centerpiece of Peter the Great’s “Russian Versaille”.
- The Narva Gate
- The Hermitage State Museum - which houses some of the most famous artworks. Also known as the Winter Palace, the home of the Romanov Emperors.
- The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood - A Russian-style church built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. But it should be noted that this is basically a reconstruction for tourists. It isn’t used as a church.
- The Official Souvenior Store