Thursday, 30 May 2013 – Day 9 – St. Petersburg, Russia

Thursday, 30 May 2013 – Day 9

Woke up this morning and had quite a lot of pain. I had booked to go on Peterhof Palace &  Park – with hydrofoil (410H3 – 4 1/2 hours). Realised I had booked to go back to the Palace again so did not cancel as the hydrofoil ride sounded a bit different. After having been to the Palace and although as beautiful as it was, I did not wish to return. The only way one could get reimbursement of any excursion was if you had a medical certificate. I went down to the medical centre which is only open for very limited time, to see the doctor to request a medical certificate and a stamp for reimbursement of my excursion. She asked some questions – not interested in my pain episode – and asked me had I had any diarrhoea. I said that I had a little bit yesterday – well, no more questions but promptly told me – “You have Novo Virus – you must go immediately to your cabin and stay there 48 hours”. “You will have room service and not be charged”. I believe I upset my stomach by having too many rich cocktails the night before but she would not have it. So off to my cabin I went.

My cabin steward was absolutely lovely and checked on me regularly.

When meal time came, there would be a knock on the door and a masked person from the kitchen handed me the tray and promptly left – was quite funny as one would think I had the plague. Anyway, my diet consisted of 3 dry bread rolls, a banana, jelly and some broth.

That was today.  Wouldn’t have a clue whether we were sailing or in port as I had an inside cabin.

 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 – Day 8 – Novrogod, Russia

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 – Day 8

Today was an early start as I chose to go on the Novgorod tour (410W – 13 1/2 hours). After breakfast we boarded our coach and started the tour to Novgorod, (almost 3 hours drive from St Petersburg)  – Russia’s oldest city and has just celebrated its 1150 year anniversary. The history of Novgorod is closely linked with all the major pages of Russian history. From here the Rurikovichi dynasty emerged and ruled Russia for more than 750 years. It was the cradle of Russian republican and democratic traditions. For a period of 600 years up until 1478, the “Veche”, an ancient parliament comprising the representatives of Novgorod aristocratic families, took all decisions on life and foreign policy. Novrogod became one of the greatest art centres in Europe; its architectural traditions, school of icon painting, jewellers and decorative art becoming famous all over the world. Novrogod is a city-museum. The unique architectural monuments of Novrogod are included in the Register of the World Heritage of UNESCO. These include the Kremlin, St. Sophia Cathedral and St. George Cathedral in Yuriev Monastery.

We drove through some lovely countryside before we reached the Yuriev Monastery which was founded in the 12th century by Prince Yaroslav the Wise.

Here is the strikingly beautiful St.George Cathedral, another masterpiece of ancient Russian architecture.

953

This was a beautiful cathedral and one cannot appreciate its beauty in the short time one visits these places.

We then boarded the coach and proceeded to visit the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture, “Vitoslavlitsy”. Assembled here is a whole complex of genuine 16th and 17th century wooden buildings, including churches, wooden peasant huts, flour mills and store houses which complete the picture of a fascinating region. Was lovely just roaming around the complex. Interesting to see that there is still work being done on the buildings.

976

We then drove to a hotel for lunch and proceeded to the mighty Kremlin – the core of the ancient city. The oldest Russian fortress in the heart of the old town was the centre of life in ancient Novgorod. The grounds are huge and we started our long walk around it.

The impressive St. Sophia Cathedral erected in 1045 dominates the Kremlin and historic downtown Novrogod. Inside, ancient mural paintings and icons are a unique and important part of Russia’s national heritage.

Mikhail Mikeshin designed the “Millennium of Russia” Monument – 1862, that stands in the Kremlin’s central square. The unique monument in bronze immortalises all those who greatly contributed to the development of the country’s culture science, art and literature along with other outstanding Russian state figures.

1010We still wandered along until we finally left the Kremlin and its amazing surrounds, cathedrals with their beautiful interiors and murals. Once again, could not appreciate everything on our visit here.

Our coach was there to meet us and it was the long trip back to St Petersburgh and the ship. We arrived back at the ship quite late and although it was a superb trip, my body was telling me to have an early night.  I loved Novrogod. Went into the Discovery Lounge for a little while but did not have a late night. Did the usual chatting but then it off to bed completely exhausted.

Quote of the day – “A life without love is like a year without summer” – Swedish Proverb.

 

Tuesday, 28 May, 2013 – Day 7 – St Petersburg, Russia

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 – Day 7

We arrived in the Port of St Petersburg this morning. Was up early this morning and down to breakfast as long day ahead for the shore excursion.

lst page st p

st peters map

page 2

p3I chose to go on St Petersburg Portfolio (410C – approximately 91/2 hours) After an early breakfast, had to go through some formalities to set foot on Russian soil. Finally boarded our coach and set off through the streets of St Petersburg. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the city has a fascinating history and is built on a series of islands connected by a network of iron and stone bridges – these connect the islands.

We crossed over the River Neva and continue along the embankment. We passed the Church of the Spilled Blood – also known as The Church of Resurrection – it was built on the site where the Russian Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It took a quarter of a century for the magnificent facades to rise from the earth and become covered in intricate mosaics and crowned with elaborate domes.

We next visited St Isaac’s Cathedral, reminiscent of St Peter’s in Rome. Is a magnificent building – took 40 years to complete, and the great dome, covered with more than 200 pounds of pure gold, is one of the largest in the world. It was one of the main cathedrals of the Russian Orthodox Church at the time of the Russian Empire. The structure is supported by 112 monolithic columns and the interior is elaborately decorated with more than 30 different kinds of marble, spectacular mosaics, painted ceiling murals and sculptures.

892We continued on to the magnificent Peterhof Palace and Gardens approximately 22 miles to the west of St. Petersburg on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. Built by Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century to rival Versailles, this town of palaces, fountains and parks is known as the grandest of all the summer residences of the Russian czars.

902There was a lot of people visiting here. We had a guided tour of the interior of the palace – it took us ages to proceed into the next room as we could not go in until the group in front of us had finished. I was feeling quite tired here as too much standing. One of the attendants gave me a chair to sit on and fanned me down although I wasn’t feeling too hot but it was very nice of her. We continued on through several rooms. The state apartments are sumptuously appointed with expensive tableware etc. Very over the top.

896I was pleased to be outside again.

Wandered through the magnificent gardens – Peter the Great designed the layout of the 300 acre park with its spectacular fountains. The Grand Cascade, often considered the highlight of the grounds, consists of three waterfalls, an avenue of 64 fountains and 37 gilded statues. During World War II, the estate was occupied and all the buildings and fountains were virtually destroyed, so it has taken many years to restore Peterhof right down to the last detail.

901Just so much to see here – you can see why it is said to be one of the great places to visit. It was a massive park and I felt like I had walked the whole of the estate. We still kept on walking until we came to the sea and had a short stop here.

913Kept on walking through more lovely gardens and fountains  and then it was time to board the coach. Oh, for a seat!!!!

Our lunch stop was in a huge building and the paintings on the ceilings were beautiful. The lunch was almost silver service.

After lunch, we drove back to our ship but we were an hour late getting back due to traffic.  There was only about 10 minutes to get off this coach and get on the one to go to the ballet. Reluctantly, I decided I was not well enough to go to the ballet – disappointed of course.

Got back to my cabin and rested for awhile before going into dinner and then I went into the Discovery Lounge to “drown my sorrows” by not going to the ballet. Had several cocktails before I went to bed as tomorrow is going to be another long day.

Although I was quite exhausted, it was an amazing tour.

Quote of the day – “Cinderella is proof that shoes are a girl’s best friend” – J. Fiddler.