Moscow to St. Petersburg - 2011

Summer Palace and City Tour

Catherine’s Summer Palace

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our bus left the pier for the tour for Catherine’s Summer Palace at 8:30.  The palace, which is in the Russian baroque style, is outside the city and was built for Peter the Great.  His daughter Elizabeth was responsible for expanding the palace, which is also known as the Pushkin Palace.  We had to wear booties over our shoes to protect the beautiful parquet floors.  We were allowed to take pictures except the Amber Room, so we bought postcards.  The entire palace is a replica, faithfully reproduced, as the Nazis occupied it during WWII and almost completely destroyed it.  They used one of the elegant parts as a stable.  The grounds are lovely, too, and we had time to walk around.  We returned to the ship for lunch, then left around 2:00 for a tour of St. Petersburg.

Here’s a summary of St. Petersburg:

  • 1. It was founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and he incorporated ideas he learned studying in Amsterdam.  It was known as his “Window to the West.”
  • 2. There are 101 islands, over 300 bridges and 66 canals in St. Petersburg.
  • 3. The population is about 5 million.
  • 4. The Winter Palace (now the Hermitage) was the residence of Russian emperors.
  • 5. St. Petersburg is at the same latitude as Anchorage AK, so there are many hours of daylight this time of the year.

We saw many old buildings: the Smolny Convent (Peter the Great sent his first wife here because he didn’t like her), the Resurrection Church and the Peter and Paul Fortress (not called a kremlin in St. Petersburg).  There is a gate in the fortress along the Neva River where enemies were brought to be executed.  We also saw St.  Isaac’s Cathedral, which is the largest church in the city with a capacity of 13,000 people.  Over 200 pounds of gold went into gilding the dome.  Most of the churches are no longer used for services but are now museums.  Amazingly, they were not destroyed by the Nazis.  There were brides and grooms having pictures taken around the city, even on a Monday.  We returned to the ship for another great dinner.

At 9:00, in a tent along the pier, a group of energetic singers and dancers performed a Cossack Show, which was very entertaining.  We were served a shot of vodka at intermission.We were back in our cabin about 10:30 and were glad we didn’t have to take a bus ride this evening.


We took our umbrellas along on our tours today but never needed them.  The skies were sometimes cloudy, sometimes blue.  It was windy later in the day with the high temperature in the mid 60s.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Summer Palace - ceiling

Summer Palace - room for current parties

Summer Palace - All had to wear booties

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Summer Palace - Cameron Gallery

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Summer Palace - Palace Complex (postcard)

Summer Palace - After Nazi occupation

City Tour from bus

City Tour - St. Isaac's Church

City Tour from bus

City Tour from bus

City Tour from bus - Russian missle

City Tour - Resurrection Church

City Tour from bus

City Tour - KGB across the Neva River

City Tour - Smolny Convent

Folklore Cossack Show