We spent our last day and a half at some pretty amazing places in St. Petersburg. We visited the Summer Palace of Catherine the Great and toured the Peterhof Gardens as well. Catherine the Great's Palace was out of this world. The outside is a beautiful blue with white trim and gold accents. The inside….holy moly! All of the rooms that have been restored to their original conditions are the definition of opulence! There is not a bit that is not covered in shiny gold. The pictures don't even do it justice. I think you would go blind in there on a very sunny day. The gardens at Peterhof are just as amazing. There are huge fountains with gilded gold life size statues, gold fish that spit water, and beautiful green forests to wander through. We really enjoyed our time at these to places.
For our last day we decided to go at a much slower pace. We didn't leave the ship until around 11am and we took our first Russian bus, which was much easier than we imagined although it was about one million degrees in there. We did a little shopping on Nevsky Prospekt we did a lot of walking in the heat so we worked up a good appetite. We had heard that there was a great restaurant called the Vodka Room so we thought…"when in Russia". The restaurant was very nice and not too pricey. We had an outdoor table and we ordered some interesting dishes to snack on and asked the waiter (who spoke very good English) for a vodka recommendation since there were about 100 options on the menu. He made a suggestion which, of course, was delicious and we had a fantastic lunch.
After lunch we wandered a little more and then found a bus back home to the ship. This bus cost us about $0.80 ROUND TRIP. Wow! What a bargin.
We are so glad we had the opportunity to visit Russia. We wonder if we will ever have this kind of opportunity again. Several of the Russians we spoke to said that they wondered the same thing with the direction things are going. Russia was definitely the most difficult port we have been to on this voyage although it is still much less challenging than some of the ports we visited on the 2010 Fall voyage. The language barrier was difficult but like any other country you just have to be prepared and patient.