On our second day in Russia we had chosen to take the city tour by coach, so we left just after breakfast.

The same “two star general” was on duty in the passport control, as unsmiling as before. I found myself wondering whether this was her “work face” carefully cultivated for the job, or did it come naturally to her? Would she rather have wished us a good trip, or did she really not like us?

We had another lovely guide on the coach, but quite different from the one on the previous day. She was small, slim and very vivacious. Her commentary was informative and witty. (She even injected a few jokey references to the K.G.B.)

Once again we were blessed with a warm sunny day, which really showed the city off to its best advantage.

One of the spectacular statues is the one of Peter the Great on a rearing horse.

Statue of Peter the Great

Statue of Peter the Great

It is quite amazing that the only support for this huge, heavy statue are the two back legs of the horse.

We drove around seeing, palaces, churches, gardens, everywhere restored and regilded buildings, glistening in the sunlight.0393blogWe saw the old gun ship “Aurora” from which the cannon shot signalled the start of the revolution. This has been restored and is now a museum.

There were several youngsters in naval uniform and we were told that they came from the Naval Academy. Apparently if they have unruly youngsters they can be sent there for a period to learn some discipline!

Naval Academy

Naval Academy

 We drove along the famous Nevsky Prospect and saw the fashionable shops and very smart women who patronised them. A far cry from the pictures we saw in Soviet times of the grey streets and empty shops, patronised by dowdy women. Why is it that all the pictures I saw of Russia were taken in the winter?

The shops are now full of tempting goods, but, as usual, not everyone can afford to patronise them. It seems that whatever type of society, whether Capitalist or Communist, there will always be the “haves” and the “have nots.”

The only disappointment I had was seeing the British Embassy. It opens on to the street, no gates for spies to escape behind, and how could you smuggle someone in under a car? JW  ‘s answer to that was, “Well, you wouldn’t let spies in by the front door, would you? They must have a back entrance.”  🙂 

We stopped for a bit of retail therapy in an approved souvenir shop and then drove on to our last stop. The beautiful Church on the Spilled Blood. Unfortunately we did not have time to go inside (that was on a separate tour), but the outside is magnificent anyway.0387blog

Another beautiful church

 A bit more retail therapy at the street market and then it was time to go back to the ship.

This time JW managed to get through without causing any incidents.

We had lunch on the ship and then idled the afternoon away. I spent much of it gazing over the rail on Emerald deck, watching “our friend” from the passport control striding up and down the dockside. Did she expect someone to defect, or was she wondering what the old gal on the boat was thinking about as she leaned over the rail?

We left St Petersburg at 9.30pm with the feeling that therewas so much more to see, but looking forward to Tallin next day.