Since we figured we were unlikely to visit Russia again, we signed up for an optional pre-trip session called Karelia's Cultural Treasures. It included three days in St. Petersburg and three days in the autonomous region between St. Petersburg and the White Sea called Karelia. It greatly enhanced our appreciation of the subsequent cruise.

Picture

Narrative

Hotel Angleterre

After a long overnight flight from Washington Dulles we arrived in St. Petersburg in the early afternoon. Zegrahm had arranged for us to be picked up at the airport. The young man who met us initially was a hoot. He insisted that we use a luggage cart although as usual we traveled light and had only a couple of roll-aboards each. He spoke little English, but once he herded us through the airport we met a delightful young woman who escorted us to the hotel where we would spend the next few nights.

St. Isaacs

St. Isaac's Cathedral is located in a park across the street from our hotel, the Hotel Angleterre.

Although the Soviet rulers tried to stamp out religious expression, the Russian Orthodox Church has recovered handily since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many churches & monasteries have been restored or reconstructed. We visited many, including this one.

The Admiralty

After unpacking, we decided to walk around the area near the hotel. The Admiralty was just a block or two from our hotel. Peter the Great, who founded St. Petersburg and named it after his patron saint, believed strongly that Russia had to become a sea power. One of the early portions of his new city was this ship-building center.

Another of Peter's passions was making his new capital as modern and cosmopolitan as it could be. For this reason, all the original buildings followed the European styles of the early 18th century. The style came to be known as "Petrine Baroque."

Park

The area of the city where the hotel was located is along the Neva River. There are a lot of beautiful parks as well as lovely buildings.

This is a Thursday afternoon. I suspect it would be more crowded on a weekend, but even today there are plenty of folks out enjoying the gorgeous weather. We were very lucky throughout our trip. Usually August in Russia is moving toward a chilly and drizzling autumn. We encountered mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Children playing

These children were enjoying a super-sized sandbox. There was an extensively equipped playground close by, but most of the youngsters preferred more unstructured play.

Neva River

St. Petersburg was built on a series of islands. This is Vasilievski Island. The building with the tower is the Kunstkammer, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.

Peter the Great

As is the case with most of our trips, we received an extensive reading list before our scheduled departure. If I learned nothing else from this trip, an introduction to Peter the Great would have sufficed. He was a remarkable man who single-handedly dragged Russia into communication with the modern (18th century) world.

This monument was erected by Catherine II (the Great) in the city that Peter founded to be the new Russian capital. The building in the background is the Senate.

Peter himself would probably have preferred being pictured with a ship rather than a horse.

Overview

The guide who escorted us from the airport suggested that we visit the rooftop bar of the W Hotel for a good panorama. We took her advice.

The river is visible beyond the Admiralty, but we were really amused by the satellite dish farm on the baroque roofs.

The view from the other side of the hotel included a view into our own hotel room!

Walking around in the sunshine is our best antidote to jetlag, but it was beginning to run out. Nevertheless we were to meet with our group in the evening for a welcome party and dinner.

Click your "back" button to continue.