Russia Tour 2017: First Day in St. Petersburg

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia as seen from the Neva, River.

The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia as seen from the Neva, River. Photo: Richard Mortel.

If it’s Monday it must be St. Petersburg, at least for this fine cohort of travellers.  We arrived in the late afternoon on Sunday, and settled into our Crowne Plaza Ligovsky.  The location could not be better, as at least one past TourMagination group of travellers will know.  Two from our group (Doris and Catherine) immediately set out for the great Mariinsky Theatre where they took in a fine opera, and the rest of us hopped on a streetcar and went down Nevsky Prospect into the heart of this great city.

It helps a great deal that I’ve lived in this remarkable city, and so we toured through a small portion of my favourite sites over the next hour:  Nevsky, through the arch of the General Staff Headquarters to Palace Square, and a night-time view of the Winter Palace and (my favourite) Alexander Column.  We came back via more canals and rivers etc., and past one remarkable site after another.

Today?  Well, we toured the Peter Paul Fortress today, the burial place of the Tsars and the very first structure in this city.  Then the Spilled Blood Cathedral and a few more sights before we had a couple of hours of relaxation in our hotel rooms.

Supper?  Well we ate in what might have been our best restaurant of the trip.   People simply could not believe the quality of what they received, and have received on this trip.  Then I escorted our crew to the Imperial Hermitage Theatre for a ballet performance while I took a very long walk back to my hotel.

There is so much about this land that has shaped who I am, and I remain so grateful to be able to return to it, and to do so (again!) with a cohort of travellers who are open to new discoveries of a land that so many have dismissed for so long.

Did I mention that I saw Tom Mulcair, former NDP leader?  Well, I’m 99% sure that he walked right past me, but maybe that can wait for the next blog!

Weather promises to be sunny tomorrow, which will be welcome.  But even with a misty rain it’s been a rich time already in a fabulous city.  And without the masses of tourists of mid-summer we’ve had almost a leisurely time in the city’s biggest sights.

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