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Cruise Diary: St. Petersburg, Day 2

Journalist Pat Woods just cruised on Eurodam’s 10-night Baltic cruise and chronicled her journey for us. Enjoy!

Formerly called Leningrad, St. Petersburg has a population of 5 million making it the most northern city in the world with a population greater than 1 million. Although the city has a network of subways and street cars (trolleys on tracks), downtown streets are extremely congested. The city was named for St. Peter the apostle, not Peter the Great.

Our 2-day tour continued with a morning canal boat ride and visit to the State Hermitage Museum, the world’s second largest museum with more than 3 million artifacts housed in five buildings.

Founded by Catherine the Great for her personal art treasures, the Hermitage is the world’s largest art museum. Our English-speaking guide said it gets 18,000 visitors per day, six days a week during the busy summer months. This gigantic art treasure trove was so crowded we only saw a small portion and had to stay close to our guide who kept in touch with a microphone and receivers. She again warned about pickpockets.

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St. Isaac Cathedral, completed in the mid-19th century, is an immense structure with a gold dome visible for miles. It is filled with ornate mosaic murals, granite pillars and marble floors. Our guide said her grandfather helped restore the icons. She briefly described religious services in Russian Orthodox churches which do not have pews or seats. Some of the services — especially Christmas and Easter — are quite long, but people can leave whenever they wish.

We had a lunch of beef and mushroom pies in a local restaurant. Our group spent considerable times at Yusupov Palace, scene of the infamous murder of Rasputin. Tour guides played out segments of the “Who done it?” drama in different rooms of the palace.

Our afternoon agenda included a visit to St. Petersburg’s subways along with a shopping stop. After two days viewing the czars’ art treasures, huge ornate palaces, and lavish country estates, it was easy to understand why Russian citizens revolted in 1917. We heard very little about everyday life in Russia today.

Fortunately for us, Russian immigration made getting back on the ship easy. Later during the cruise, fine art aficionados had high praise for the Hermitage’s art collection which reportedly is considerably larger than those of other famous art museums.

That night we enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner in Canaletto Restaurant ($10) where Winn and other attentive waiters served antipasti selections, zuppa di pesce (assorted seafood and vegetable soup), and cod puttanesca entrée. I love the Eurodam’s seafood! For dessert, we both chose the Tiramisu trio.

Main course at Canaletto.

Main course at Canaletto.

We listened to live classical music in Explorer’s Lounge, but we were too tired to attend the 10:30 pm crew show.

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