Tuesday, July 13, 2010

St. Petersburg, Day 1

St. Petersburg is our only port with an overnight stay, and we, like
many others, filled up as much time as possible with port excursions.

But before we could embark on our first one, we had to go through
immigration. That meant a bazillion people going through at once and
each person's identification information being scrutinized carefully.
Which took quite a while. The cruiseline sent us out in groups but
there was still a backup. But we made it through and we now have
Russian stamps in our passports.

Our afternoon excursion was a tour of the city on the way to the
souvenir shop. We were on the shopping excursion tour since we wanted
to be sure to get some specific things. We got a beautiful matryoshka
doll as well as a thimble and spoon for the boys.

We were done quickly and had time to walk around. We were at St.
Isaac's Square which is a shaded, grassy area which was much welcomed
after the temperature reached over 90 degrees which is almost unheard
of in St. Petersburg. We were only a ten minute walk away from the
Church of the Spilt Blood so we went to see it and then up to Nevsky
Prospekt because I wanted to walk along it having read about it on a
travel guide.

Traffic was bad both going and coming. There are only seven bridges
crossing the Neva River so there isn't much choice in which way to go.
We were supposed to be back at the ship by 4:45 but didn't get back
til 5:15 and then were another 15 minutes in line getting through
immigration. There were several groups leaving out for the ballet and
the ball while there were several busloads coming back from a variety
of tours.

We hurried dinner a bit as we had an evening excursion that wad a city
tour from the canals and river. It was a little less chaotic leaving
as most people had already gotten their passports stamped.

On the boat, there was a trio performing folk music for us. It was
good to hear it and DS12 particularly enjoyed it.

We were back on board after a half hour souvenir stop.

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