Our first and only trip to Russia (at least through 2020). Alexandra and Annelise stayed with friends so this trip was just Sharon and I. Unlike other trips where I usually seek the most inexpensive option, because I had concerns on security and there was no middle option, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Europa and hired a hotel driver for airport transfers and the day trip to the Summer Palace in the countryside. The hotel bill alone was more than cost of most of the entire trips than we took, but St. Petersburg was always on the top of my list to visit. I had studied Russia and the transition from the Soviet Union quite a bit as I thought (incorrectly) that the former Soviet Union and satellite countries would be the growth economies of the 21st century – wrong!
We were there the longest day of the year as well as the sunniest / hottest days of the year. In the morning, you would see scantily dressed Russians (both men and women) and after a day of day drinking in the sun, you would see a lot of severely sunburned people lying around about 9pm.
We visited the major sites in the city, the Hermitage (Winter Palace), The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and took boat ride through the canals.
Summer Palace (Peterhof Palace)
We took a day trip out to Peterhof Palace which was built by Peter the Great in the 1700’s. It was built to compete with the Palace of Versailles as Russia wanted to be seen as equal to the empires of Western Europe.
We also went to the little known Museum of Political History – had a lot of Soviet propaganda and was very interesting. We also went to a Russian dance show and the lead guy looked like he could be related to me.
(This was written during the Great Shutdown of 2020. My memory isn’t this good, used internet searches to fill in a lot of holes. If there’s huge fat foot below me, it not my fault – that an advertisement I can’t control).