Our sunny day starts with a boat cruise along the Neva. A young man jogs beside our boat and waves to us from each bridge. Cute. We see many palaces, gorgeous buildings and the little yellow building that houses the log house Peter lived in when he was building boats and the city. We meet Alexander the jogger at the end of the cruise and he poses for a picture with Marie. Cute.
The Yusupov Palace was owned by the richest man in the world and is in the top 10 best private residences of the world. We tour it before the public is allowed in and it feels like we live there! After 4 daughters, Alexie is born to Nicholas II with hemophelia. Rasputin, the mystic monk claimed he could stop the bleeding. He became very close to Alexandra, the unpopular wife of Nicholas II. Everyone thought they were having an affair. Felix Yusupov lures Rasputin to the basement of their palace and kills him. Felix eventually marries a niece of Nicholas II uniting the 2 families. We tour the best private theatre in the world according to UNESCO and can taste the popcorn.
Next up St Isaac’s Cathedral – a massive Russian Orthodox church filled with icons, mosaics and paintings. For lunch we go to the Aragosta restaurant. Borsct and stolle (a thick meat pie) are served.
Faberge Museum. Carl Faberge, factory owner sends his son Carl in 1860 for an education in Paris. He learns how to repair and make jewellry. They become the royal jeweller. He makes a jewelled egg for Maria, the wife of Alexander I. All in all he made 50 Imperial eggs. We also see Russian Royal samovars (tea sets) in gold and silver that are very impressive.
We do some souvenir shopping off Nevsky Prospect (Prospective of the Neva). We are offered a subway ride or visit to a Orthodox church while a service is on. We vote to go back to the ship. We’ve had it. Our fab tour comes to an end. We say goodbye and spicy ba (thank you in Russian) to Marina our guide and Constantin our driver.
Probably the best tour and guide we have ever had. She finished with a question, “Do you feel safe here?” Yes we all answered. Then maybe you will come back here someday, learn some of our cyrilic alphabet and find your own way around. Yes we all answered!
Our long day ended with a tasty Asian meal in Red Ginger, one of the 4 specialty restaurants on board.