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Dinner with Catherine the Great!
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Sights of St. Petersburg

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

A couple of interesting observations about St. Petersburg. I was surprised by the juxtaposition of the nondescript, gray Communist block buildings right next to new, state-of-the-art architectural buildings, and in the midst of 18th-century Tsar-era palaces and historical sites. I was also surprised by how proud and patriotic the local citizens are. They are full of life and personality. And aside from the serious limitations placed on visitors to the city, St. Petersburg felt like any other European city. People walking to work, the hustle and bustle of rush-hour traffic, couples kissing in the park, others walking their dogs, etc. And let’s not forget the tourists. Everywhere!

Our day two in St. Petersburg began with the Hermitage Museum, which sits on the banks of the Neva River. The museum spans five buildings, including Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace.

Considered one of the finest in the world with three million pieces of art, the museum showcases treasures from the Stone Age through to the 20th century. Under the roof of these five buildings, we were able to see the works of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gough, and Renoir, just to name a few. We even saw a bronze sculpture of a dog with a face that looked suspiciously like Putin! (By the way, our tour guide today was also named Svetlana – we are beginning to question the authenticity of our Russian tour guides’ names!).

After our visit to the Hermitage, we enjoyed a sightseeing canal boat ride through the heart of the city – enjoying many beautiful views of churches, monuments, and buildings along the way. A great way to end our afternoon in this remarkable city.

Our evening back aboard our Regent cruise was pretty low-key; we were exhausted after our long two days in Russia.


One more interesting note. We were there during the White Nights of St. Petersburg. The city seems alive 24 hours a day, as the sun never truly sets. Sunset was around midnight and sunrise was around 3:00 am, but the time in between was more like dusk or twilight, as the sky never became fully dark!

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