After cruising all night on the sea of glass, our next destination after Finland, was St Petersburg. Everyone was excited, and not one of us knew what to expect. We all stood silently in line to clear customs as we entered Russia.
The customs agents were stone, cold sober. Not a smile! But they weren’t threatening either, they were just doing their jobs, and doing it seriously. I find our own customs agents are sometimes much the same way.
After clearing customs, we proceeded to our designated tour busses, and there we met our guide. She was very friendly, and helpful, answered questions, and took us on the most incredible journey through the city of St. Petersburg.
The bus trip started with the Hermitage Museum. The lines were long even though it was mid-morning, the artwork was beyond imagination. Much of the museum was gilded in gold, and we would later realize that much of Russia is also gilded in gold! There was a great deal of up the stairs, down the stairs, waiting in line to go into another part of this gigantic museum. Without any air-conditioning, this huge building was stuffy, and hot. Occasionally there would be a window open for some circulation, but not often enough, and certainly not enough circulation for the amount of people. We were allowed to take pictures in most parts of the museum, that really surprised me. Some turned out pretty well, some were too dark to keep.
From there we toured the city, and as we were touring we realized that never once did we see an ambulance, or even a police car. The city seemed void of any kind of law enforcement. Later the next day, we did actually spot a police car but it was not engaged in any activity, just driving along the road.
The first day was devoted to sightseeing, the museum, and seeing the winter palace.
During the Second World War, after taking much of the artwork out, the Nazis bombed almost all of the palace Everything has been recreated based on pictures, and remnants of wallpaper, gilding, floors, etc. The green foil is a recreation as well, based on green foil found in the palace after the war.
This year we were privileged to be able to take two vacations, and they are much different from what I had imagined! Friends of ours asked us to join them on a cruise to Russia this year, and after much thought, we decided it would be fun and interesting. My husband didn’t have any desire to travel to the Baltic Sea, and I can’t say I’d given it much thought either, but after looking at the itinerary, we decided it was an adventure of the “Happy Accident” kind!
We flew into Amsterdam, then on to Stockholm Sweden. The cruise left from Stockholm, and for seven days we were fortunate enough to have smooth sailing on the Baltic Sea! Smooth enough that my husband who never leaves home on vacation without his trusty sea-sick patches, didn’t even use them.
Les’ not using the sea-sick patches came about because our luggage was lost, and the patches were in the luggage. I did however see a moment of panic in his eyes when he realized the patches were in that particular piece of luggage.
After the realization of not having the two bags that we never wanted to lose set in, we started gathering the most needed of necessities such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and…….sea-sick patches. Of course since the patches were a prescription, and not easily replaced, we found the sundries department on our ship. Fortunately, they had wrist bands that put pressure on specific points on the inside of the wrist. Once on, they squeeze so tightly that I’m sure it’s convincing that they are working. The fact is….not only did they work, they worked well! This I say because my husband, Les never once threw up on anyone, or anything. The real truth is, the sea was so calm, we couldn’t believe it. I have never been on a cruise like it before, and probably never will again! At the end of the cruise, even my husband didn’t bother with the wrist bands. This is an act of bravery on his part for sure, because in the past all that needs to be mentioned is boat, and I have a green husband. So to not wear the bands was a huge leap of faith for this man!
Pride shot through me as we walked into the dining-room for dinner on that last night. Everyone asked why I looked so different? I wanted to shout it out from the balcony in the dining-room that my husband wasn’t wearing any wrist bands, but I contained myself if only for the sake of our traveling companions. This was a huge gift Les had given me, the gift of knowing how brave my partner in crime was on our trip cruising the Baltic sea, and Russia.
Thank you all for your interest in the ramblings of our adventures.