16 Aug 2018
From all the walking around and sitting in the Bus I had swollen feet and as it rained a bit I decided to stay in our hotel and rest. Part of the others went on their own discovering more museums in St. Petersburg the others had taken an extra excursion to Moscow. We hadn't done it, because for us Moscow is not that far, as if we would come from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or even only from the States. So I had a pleasant day in our cozy hotel and could sort out my pictures a bit.
It had been a good idea, to rest, because the next day we visited the St. Petershof in the moring and in the afternoon the huge museum the Hermitage.
St. Peterhof was stunning, and there were many people but we still could see the beautiful golden statues and wells. We had to laugh about the Russian word Kacca which in French would be (elegantly) shit ! It was incredible what richness was shown here ! I had never seen so many gold at once. Of course I will describe and write later about this beautiful place.
Then we took the Hydrofoil from the Neva river embankments back to St. Petersburg, which was very nice and very quick. Unfortunately I can't show any pictures because when I got out of the boat somebody helped me although I didn't need any help, later I understood why he was so helpful, he had stolen my camera !! Fortunately I had put all my photos each evening on my computer so only a few pictures were lost. I also had taken a spare camera with me so it was not such a big catastrophe, but I was very upset ! I had really payed attention but apparently not enough.
After lunch we were taken to the Hermitage museum, which is enormous. Also enormous was the amount of tourists who wanted to get in. We managed with our guide, but honestly it was a nightmare ! They let far too many people going inside, there is no limit, it was so full that nobody could see anything or very few and we got all quite angry. As I couldn't see any painting and our time was limited for such a huge museum, I only took pictures from the building, the rooms and the furniture to show how the tsar family had lived. So we almost were pushed and pulled from the people in a marathon speed through the museum, it was hot and there was a lack of oxygen. I only had one wish to go out of this hell ! And not only me others too.
It was a pity but still at least I had seen the inside and maybe one day I come back and look at all these beautiful things in peace or when it is better organized.
The next day we went to Estonia to the little town of Tallinn. For that we had to leave Russia and go through the border circus again ! We were parked in a room and had been told to keep quiet and not to speak too loud. The trouble is when somebody says that to me I have to do the opposite. I spoke as usual and nobody bothered us. I also quickly got my stamp proving that I had really left the country ! I had no intention to stay there, but they probably thought I would love to live in Russia !
Then we were into Europe again ! Estonia also has the Euro so we could compare the prices with ours in Belgium, and were surprised that it was not that cheap as we had thought. The town was medieval and very charming !
The people very friendly and old was mixed with modern buildings ! My friend and I enjoyed a alcohol FREE beer, and had never seen such a huge bottle ! It had been imported from Russia. After that we weren't thirsty anymore ! In the evening we had a nice supper all together and had a lot of fun ! The next day we leave for Riga in Latvia.
We enjoy our trip very much, so far everything went smooth and we are a very nice group.
13 Aug 2018
From Helsinki to St. Petersburg it was a boring trip only interrupted by the Russian border control, which went rather smooth. First the Asian nationalities, then we two Europeans, South Africans, New Zealand, Australians, Canadians, and at the last the Americans ! With my German passport I got a big smile and a "Gute Reise" which means have a nice trip ! No photos allowed of course
First stop in Russia after the border
We then had lunch, I took something which looked like a mixture of potato and fish made as a thick pancake. It tasted very good.
After the extreme high prices of the Scandinavian countries, we now had unbelievable low prices ! I payed (an ice cream included) not even 6 € (nearly the same in Dollars) which was the price of a coffee in Sweden !!
When we finally arrived in St. Petersburg, my feet were so swollen that I could hardly walk We checked into the Matisow hotel, a nice modernized hotel which reminded me some hotels in the UK ! I mean the decoration. We had a huge room with all comfort.
I noticed that the city was very busy, lots of cars and completely different as I imagined. There were the same stores and shops as in Western countries, even Mac Donald and Starbuck everything very modern and all new cars. Didn't look like a poor town at all !!
Of course we had to stop in a souvenir shop ! Most of us bought something except me, I found the prices very expensive and I was right, later in the city you found the same items but half price cheaper !
Our sightseeing tour was very nice and interesting. The city is very expanded, I still don't know where the city center is, probably there are several. Unfortunately I have to stay in the hotel today, most of my companions went to Moscow, but I have troubles with my feet they are swollen and look like elephant feet. As we stay here for 3 days I decided not to move and take care of my feet !
It's also difficult to walk around by myself because I feel like an illiterate I can't read at all! Only a few important things were written in our writing. Only very very few speak English or another language. Tomorrow we will go to the Hermitage Museum.