Did you know that Saint Petersburg, a Russian port city on the Baltic Sea, is a two-time winner of Europe’s Leading Destination (2015 & 2016), as well as the winner of World’s Leading Cultural City Destination in 2016? These were awarded by the prestigious World Travel Awards™voters. This year, the city has garnered nominations from the same organization under four categories: Europe’s Leading City Break Destination, Europe’s Leading City Destination, Europe’s Leading City Tourist Board, and Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination.
While our cruise was docked here for two days, I joined a 1-1/2 day excursion trips that took us to various landmarks and historical places. Here are some of the photos I’ve taken.
The Catherine Palace – boasts of the magnificent Throne Room and legendary Amber Room. The golden hues of the floor to ceiling amber-covered wall was a sight to behold. Our guide explained this replica costs much more to produce than the original Amber Room that was looted by the Nazis during the First World War. Cameras were forbidden inside this room. I wonder if this restriction has something to do with the loot incident.
A stroll at the Palace’s beautiful gardens, bridges, pagodas and pavilions provided a much needed respite after we exited the Palace where we squeezed ourselves through along with other tourists as we move from one room to another. We then stopped for a few minutes at a nearby duty-free shopping outlet to buy some souvenir items before proceeding back to the ship for a late lunch in Windjammer.
City Highlights and Pushkin – was a whole day shore excursion.
The State Hermitage Museum
Winter Palace: intricately-contoured ceilings, precious woods, elaborate chandeliers and magnificent halls of this vast royal residence were all photograph-worthy. You will not be surprised to find them on Instagram.
New Hermitage: This 19th-century building is home to Rembrandt‘s collection and Spain’s Golden Age art pieces.
Old Hermitage: Is home to Leonardo Da Vinci‘s Madonna with a Flower including other Italian masterpieces that are about six centuries old.
We proceeded back to the St. Isaac’s Cathedral as they opened doors for us. Earlier we had photo stops at St. Isaac’s Square, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and visited the Peter and Paul Fortress after our lunch at a local restaurant.
With just a few hours to see the grandeur of this elaborate city, and while squeezing elbows with groups of other tourists, it was not possible to take proper photos of every art work and creative pieces that we saw.
For the first time in 24 years, Saint Petersburg is hosting WTA’s Europe Gala Ceremony, a glittering red carpet occasion, on 30th September 2017. I have no doubt this majestic city will win the categories it is nominated for (and some more) again this year. I would like to end this note by saying, if there is a competition for the most cordial immigration officers in the world, they will win this category as well.