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Postcards from Russia

Port of Call: St. Petersburg

Shore excursion recap for Crown Princess Baltic cruise.

I am just in from a half day tour of St. Petersburg. We took a tour of the canals and a walking tour. The total tour took about 4 hours and the cost was about $49 US. The “Window on the West” we crisscrossed canals and motored over the river.

We purposely choose the tour that was in the afternoon because most everyone else takes the expensive 2-Day tour that leaves at 6:00 am. The line up to have the passports and the passport photocopy collected is enormous in the morning. I was up to see the lineup though and I was glad that I was not part of that migration.

St. Petersburg is a city that shines, despite the drab colors and concrete

Our tour guide  was very knowledgeable and his command of English was impressive.  While in port, I noticed an NCL ship roll into port. The port is industrial and there are relics of the past – a train, abandoned scrap metal, and loads of busses. The traffic is horrendous! Are you kidding? We had to wait and wait and wait to get across a bridge.

We arrived at the banks of the Neva and had a thorough review of the young city. Actually, the City of St. Petersburg is younger than New York and it is colorful (believe it or not.) St. Petersburg has provided a historic stage since the day Peter the Great ordained its construction. In its relative short history St. Petersburg witnessed the rise and fall of Imperial Russian, tow revolutions, and civil war. The city survived major issues and it is welcoming to visitors.

We were warned not to smile at strangers (a leftover character trait from Communist days). We were also asked not to ask people, “how are you?” This brings bad luck or something.

Tonight on the ship we are treated to The Troika Dancers direct from the world famous Troika Restaurant and Night Club. Other great entertainment is found by our jovial Cruise Director who also likes to sing Neil Diamond songs. This is a treat for me to watch him sing and lead the elders on some good old fashioned fun. Our friend Larry Dunsmore from England is also entertaining us as the resident piano star.

We have made friends with many people. The sun is out all night long around here and there is now 14 hours between Russia and California. The time keeps changing and I really can’t keep up anymore. We are true collectors of capitols.

Today, by the way, we watched an older lady trip into a man-hole and hurt her leg. Scary. She was down for the count and I was so hoping that she had travel insurance. Yikes. Then when we got off our tour bus and another passenger went down for the count, face down when he tripped over a railroad track. The medics rushed over.

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