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vagabonds3 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

Reluctant Tourists

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Sunday, 16 August 2015 | Views [116]

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

WE ARE TRAVELERS MASQUERADING AS TOURISTS, but I fear our travel-worn clothing gives us away.  We will probably be refused entry to the Captain’s cocktail party this evening; passengers are requested to “dress elegantly.”  Oh, well.  It hasn't been easy for us to relinquish control of our trip to a tour company but the Kremlin's insistance on knowing where each tourist is, was and will be made a cruise the least painful option.

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   Peter and Paul Fortress, oldest part of St. Pete

The Chernyshevsky remains snugly in port, serving as a hotel for 200+ passengers while bus tours depart for the city called variously St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, and once again, St. Petersburg.  This morning we — and 20 other English-speakers identified as “Group 1” — visited the Smolny Church, Czar Nicholas Square and Peter and Paul Fortress, where Peter the Great laid the cornerstone for St. Petersburg in 1703.  While the group fought over the best spot to photograph /the Church of Spilled Blood, I searched out cold Diet-Cokes; it's cloudy today and the photos were better yesterday, anyhow.  We had seen most of this before but on our last visit the Cathedral of Peter and Paul was undergoing renovation, so we were eager to see the results.  It’s basically a gilded mausoleum to the Romanov’s and our guide, Marina, recited chapter and verse who is lying where.  I’m sure her spiel was well-rehearsed but it was witty and sounded spontaneous with many self-deprecating Russian jokes.

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    Reubens is always a hit at the Hermitage

Normally, two hours at the Hermitage Museum would hardly be enough — we spent the better part of two days on our other visit.  But the Impressionist exhibit, one of the best we have ever seen, has been moved to another location and requires a separate ticket, so there wasn’t all that much we wanted to see again.  We wandered off from the group, preferring to get lost in the maze of the former Winter Palace, promising to meet at the specified location at the proper time.  This is our first experience as part of a group tour and now we know why we’ve been avoiding them.

 

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John and Connie, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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