After our visit to the Catherine Palace we had lunch in Tsarskoye Selo and returned to the bus for the drive back to the city. There was an excursion option to see the Hermitage's modern European collection. Neither Jim nor I opted for that visit. We were sorry to hear that the tour was rushed and unsatisfactory, but glad we missed the frustration. Much of the collection is art seized (looted?) from Germany after WWII. The Russians view it as reparations for the wholesale destruction of Russian arts and architecture -- not to mention the millions of soldiers and civilians who lost their lives. The USSR lost an estimated 13.7% of its population, which was among the highest world-wide and far higher than most countries. The USA by comparison lost 0.32% of its population. You must understand that such figures are estimates and no exact count will ever be known.
Leningrad alone lost roughly 33% of its population during the siege.
That evening most of us gathered on deck to watch our departure from St. Petersburg.
This is a repeat of the map showing our path through the canal to our downtown docking site. For our departure we simply retraced our "steps."
There is a "beltway" around St. Petersburg called the Western High-Speed Diameter. This bridge is part of the construction.
We wondered why we didn't just motor under the bridge into the open ocean rather than twisting through the canal. The answer: shallow water. The mouth of the Neva is obstructed by sandbars.
Looking at the map above, all the shipping lanes follow a different path than we can.
The canal, on the other hand is dredged.
I can't identify this building, but I liked the applied decoration of two generations of ships with the compass rose.
We passed all kinds of industrial port facilities plus numerous high-rise, grim-looking apartment blocks. I assume they were occupied by port workers and had the advantage of a short commute to work. There wasn't much else to recommend them.
As we exited the heavily industrial area, there were a number of folks out fishing. This group appeared to be cooking their catch in situ.
Didn't get much response from waving.
The new cruise terminal of St. Petersburg is far away from downtown and the major sights. It is suitable for mega-cruise-ships such as the one shown at dock. She is the MSC Meraviglia carrying up to 5,600 passengers!
The nearby Lakhta Center is the tallest building in Europe.
As we reached the end of the canal we passed the iconic "Leningrad" sign at the entrance to the Port of St. Petersburg. Even through the name of the city was changed back to St. Petersburg in 1991, the sign was retained to commemorate the Siege of Leningrad. The smaller letters in black, "Gerod-Geroy" in the Latin alphabet, translates to Hero City. There were twelve cities so designated after WWII, but Leningrad was the first.
We have reached the farthest extent of the canal and are about to enter the Gulf of Finland on our way to Helsinki, our next port of call.
We waved goodbye to the fishermen in the Zodiac equivalent. They waved back!
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