Well, we are pulling away from St. Petersburg. It’s all a memory now. It really was quite an adventure and I can’t wait to be able to post pictures of what we saw and did. I can’t forget to tell your about my adventure with Ben when against the order of our tour guide, we ditched our tour group in St. Issac’s to find a public bathroom for Ben which required a run through a park and scrounging for 20 Rubles to pay the WC lady and then having to talk our way back into the church to find out tour group again.
When the pictures are uploaded, find them here.
Also, Happy 26th Birthday, Blane!! xoxo
UPDATE: On St. Petersburg Day two we took another tour via cruise ship shore excursions. This trip was 8 hours, was to tour St. Petersburg and we were to see the Hermitage and St. Isaacs. It was very disappointing. I will say the Hermitage, the former Winter Palace was amazing. Very opulent. The disappointing thing is our tour guide led us the entire time and would not let us walk around by ourselves. Yes, she had some interesting things to say and yes, I love art. However, the place is huge and there were things I wanted to see that having to hear her take on painting after painting was really annoying. By the time she let us go we had 30 minutes until we were supposed to meet-up to depart the museum. We were basically screwed out of seen the gold rooms which was the reason I took the tour in the first place. Another note about Russia, they don’t take Euros (except the street vendors). The kids were thirsty so we went to the museum cafe. They did not take Euros, they did not take ATM and all the ATM machines were out-of-order. I would have gotten cash from the ATM at the cruise terminal but they only had one and the line was at least 12 people deep. There was no time to wait in the line before out bus left.
When we reached St. Isaacs, Ben had to use the bathroom. Our guide looked at us sternly and said, no, he will have to wait until we go to the souvenir store. I looked at the lady and said, “He’s 10…he’s got to go.” I offered to find a bathroom and wait at the bus but she instructed me that we could not leave the tour. She lead us inside the church and clearly Ben could not wait. We had a ship representative on our tour and I told him I was going to leave. However, I would wait outside the church for the group (there was only one exit). He was all nervous saying, “you’ll be on the bus, won’t you.” Anyway, we left Havana behind with the tour group and we slipped away.
Once outside the church made a mad dash across the street and across a park to a public WC that I spotted from a distance. All the time we are running I’m thinking “I have no ID on me…it’s on the bus.” Poor Ben. He booked it into that bathroom ahead of me. When I entered I discovered there was an attendant collecting 20 rubles. Remember what I said about lack of ATM’s? Thankfully I had exactly 20 Rubles leftover from the previous day.
Afterwards Ben and I walked back and just stood at the bottom of the steps. I then spied a different tour guide holding a Celebrity Cruise sign who had just exited the church. Looking less frightening them my guide, I went up to her and said, “Excuse me, I had to leave my tour to take my child to the restroom. Can I get back into the church?” She happily assisted us and the guide let us back in. Ben and I were still wearing our tour headphones so we put them on to listen for our guide. As soon as we spotted her, we quietly slipped back in. She had no idea we had left.
The next stop was the “recommended souvenir shop.” Clearly overpriced and they only gave us 30 min to shop. Again, we were in Russia so what choice did we have? Our last stop was to view the outside of one last church. I took the 20 minutes they gave us to shop the street vendors. I was really disappointed that I bothered with the souvenir shop. I paid $30 for a pendant that I also found at the street vendor for $15 each. Grr…..
Something is still not quite right with that country.
Knowing what I know, I would have paid the $500 for the private car tour. At least it would have been my call on what to see and how long to spend at each location.