Saint Petersburg is just as beautiful as I remembered it except the last time we were here, September 2008, we were wearing our winter coats, today it’s in the 90’s with no air conditioning. We spent our day at the Hermitage Museum; it’s overwhelming, the amount and quality of the art on display, over 2.8 million pieces. The building, the past home of the czars, is a display on it own. It becomes evident why the surfs rebelled once they saw how the other half was living.
The rooms containing the “got to see artists”, such as Leonardo DeVinci, were elbow to elbow people. All the big ships are in and there have to be more then 20 riverboats docked in the area. This is their season, it’ll be 20 below this winter, the days will offer 4 hours of sunshine but the Hermitage will be empty. I suggest April or September.
We ended our day at the ballet, not something that I would normally attend but the production was elaborate, the costumes were top quality and other then the lack of any air-conditioning it was a wonderful evening.
Check out the dining room serving staff, there’s no shortage of beautiful single women in Russia.
Friday was a mixed day good = we had a great day in Saint Petersburg; bad = the DOW was down 261 points, but let’s focus on the good.
Our day started with a trip to Catherine’s Place; it knock you back on your heels at first sight through the gate and it builds from there ending with the amber room. Having red the book, The Amber Room, this held special interest to both Nita and I, it didn’t disappoint, this whole trip hasn’t offered any disappointments. The afternoon was spent on a city tour which helped see more in a short period of time, but the real adventure started when we left the tour and started venturing down the Saint Petersburg streets on our own. We had made reservations for six at the Russian Room at #4 on a Street that we couldn’t pronounce, but we did have a map full of streets that we couldn’t pronounce. As you would expect after a half hour walk and teamwork we presented ourselves to the staff of the Russian Room.
Beers all around and a decision that we wanted to experience Russian Caviar, we started with a 5oz jar of red and white caviar. The caviar was served with a blini on which we spread sour cream and caviar, rolled them up and eat like a small burrito, and of course followed with a shot of vodka, and accompanied with pickles, cucumbers, and raw cabbage. The red caviar was salty and carried a mild fish taste but good overall, the white was milder and carried a dirty flavor, a river flavor. The red are from Salmon and the white are from pike and this could explain the difference in taste.
“I wonder what the black tastes like,” was our collective question. ‘Waiter bring us some black and more vodka.” “You’ll want to switch to Beluga Vodka”, he advised. I think this was because the best deserves the best, and it was the best, both the caviar and the vodka. “Wow that was great now we need to eat.”
We ordered Pig Leg, Beef, Stroganoff and dumplings with varied stuffing, the waiter had to talk us into the Pig Leg; it was magnificent, and the stroganoff was the best any of us had ever eaten. This was accompanied by a lemon grapefruit vodka. Our waiter had become our buddy; we thanked him generously and left the restaurant at 9:00PM, headed back to the ship.
Our trip back to the ship involved a half hour walk to the Metro, a ride deep into the tubes, a bus ride and a short walk to the ship, what a last night in Russia. We all agreed
tat Saint Petersburg is one of a handful of cities in the world that you could easily send two week exploring and not seeing everything.
Sunday morning we visited Peterhoff, the palace doesn’t match Catherine Palace but the grounds and water fountains are something to remember. Once again we broke away from the tour group, took the hydrofoil back into Saint Petersburg had lunch and found our way back to the boat via the Metro and bus.
We leave tomorrow morning at 3:30AM to start our journey home; it’s been a vacation to remember, friendships to build on, and stories to share.