December 3, 2017

From Russia With Love (Pt II)

If you missed Part I of my three-part series, you can find it here!

Day two of Russia happened to be one of the three sunny days that St. Petersburg gets every year. How lucky were we?

We woke up early again, anticipating the same long lines at customs. Luck struck for the second time, because there were no lines in sight! Our extra hour in the customs hall was spent perusing through the souvenir stands - Russian nesting dolls and Easter eggs galore.

The rest of our day was just as eventful as the first. After shopping for more souvenirs, we took a boat tour (one of the best ways to see SPB!), walked through the streets, grabbed lunch at a Russian pie shop, tasted peaches at an indoor farmers market, rode the subway, and visited the jaw-dropping Catherine's Palace. With a city as attractive as St Petersburg, tourist crowds are inevitable, but I sincerely appreciated how Paulina, our tour guide, took us to the farmers market and subway for a taste of Russia with the Russian crowds.

Peter and Paul's Fortress, which we visited the day before

The Hermitage Museum, also a stop from our first day
Borscht, Pt II
Russian meat pie - I believe Wilson was the only person in our group of 15 who enjoyed this.
Russian apple pie
Indoor farmers market
One of my favorite photos of the day.
(Fun fact: each photo is clickable - click on it to enlarge!)

Russian subway station...impressive, isn't it?
Trash cans were banned from all SPB subway stations after a bombing during the Soviet-era.
It's remarkable how spotless they are. (Apparently trash cans returned to Moscow subway stations in 2015)

"Much nicer than the ones in New York or Australia!" - Peter, our friend from Melbourne, nodded his approval.
Vladimir, our bus driver - (of course that's his name) - drove us an hour outside of the city center to Catherine's Palace.
Funny how we were still technically in SPB. That's the same as calling my home town "NYC"! (Which it most certainly is not)
Visitors are allowed into rooms in groups - each room is "guarded" by an older Russian woman, something that was universal at all the museums and palaces we visited. Get too close to the artwork and you might find someone tapping the back of your head with a paper fan! 
A closer look at this photo will reveal the "boots" that my mom's wearing. We had to cover our shoes at most of our stops.
Imagine sliding around the palace floors...
The crowds were much bigger, I assure you. But how can you not expect crowds in such a stunning palace?!

Taking good photos in broad daylight is still a challenge for me, but I do like how this one turned out.

Earlier that day, I went for a run around the outdoor track - Ithaca has some pretty great views, but watching this sunset while the winds threatened to blow me off course? 
I think that's a pretty great memory.

Paparazzi mom strikes - she found me on the lido deck, taking photos of the sunset. Did I tell her I'd be up there? Moms just know things. (That, or she had a locating chip installed in my brain at birth and has never told me).

In the second post of my Baltic Sea trip series, I promised to show some hidden camera moments - it's only fair, since I take so many of others ;-). I've added some more to A Visual Walking Tour of Tallinn, Estonia

Want more from this series? Find the archives (and a video!) under "Baltic Sea Cruise" in my Travel section. 

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