Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cruisers 8 - St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Day 1
Even when we suck we are better than everyone else. We got 8 wrong on the geography quiz and we took home another three free pens.

Anyway, today we landed in St. Petersburg. There was a crush of people getting off for their excursions first thing in the morning, but since our tour was not until the afternoon we stayed in bed a little longer and by the time we went up to breakfast we had the place to ourselves. There were 6 waiters falling all over themselves to do something for us. We wasted a little more time playing dominoes, we had lunch and then we disembarked almost a half hour early because we were just a little excited. Luckily, they were ready for us and we were able to set out on our tour right away.

We splurged on this tour and hired a private car with a driver and a guide. We were a little worried that they might show up in a mini cooper, which would have been a disaster, but the car was a very nice Mercedes Benz and we fit fine in the backseat and the wheelchair went right into the trunk with no problems. Our tour guide, Katerina (Kate), spoke great English and was very energetic and knowledgeable. We did a quick tour of the city seeing many churches, etc. before stopping at what we thought would be a souvenir shop. The first thing they did when we came in was to offer us a drink; what this usually means to me is that we can’t afford anything in the store, and, in fact, we couldn’t. The dolls and the eggs were absolutely beautiful but the price range was in the hundreds and thousands of dollars. They had the wrong tourists. We thanked them kindly and then explained what we needed to our guide.

After the store we toured a little more and then we went to the Hermitage. Kate came in with us and we decided that this is the way to see a museum. Mom’s chair rolled easily between all of the different rooms and even buildings and Kate kept us informed about the most important pieces that we were seeing. All of the other tours had 30 or 40 people in them and we never would have been able to keep up, but with our private guide we had no trouble at all.

After the Hermitage, we toured a little more and did another shopping stop. This one was more our speed and we spent many more of our tourist dollars. Tomorrow, we have a “canals and rivers” tour in the morning and then we will be back on the ship in the afternoon.
St. Petersburg – Day 2
We left a little earlier today for our boat tour so we ordered room service to be delivered at 6:30am. They called at 6:30 to make sure we didn’t want coffee or tea, they just couldn’t believe that someone would order breakfast and not coffee or tea. Our tour started on a bus where they covered a lot of the things that Kate covered yesterday in our car tour. While on the bus our new guide, Tamara, outfitted us with these cool headphones and radio transmitters. That way she could talk in a normal voice and all of us could hear her without straining to hear. It worked well except that she kept taking phone calls and yelling at someone in Russian while we all listened. We decided that she was telling a child to leave his little sister alone. Once we were all settled with our headsets we climbed onto a boat to start the “waterways” part of the tour. We were on the Moika River, the Fountain River, and the Neve River. And the guide talked a lot but we were hardly listening. Every other building was a palace and I was not going to remember who lived there anyway. The big entertainment of the ride was a kid, probably around 10 years old, who followed us throughout the city. Every time we left one bridge he ran alongside and met us at the next bridge. It was quite a long run and he made it to every one, waving and doing cartwheels to make us clap. At the end of our boat ride he was waiting outside of the terminal and nearly everyone on the boat gave him a little tip. He had a few friends there that had been doing the same thing with the boats behind us, not a bad way to make a little bit of money.

After the boat we went to the fortress and cathedral of Peter and Paul. This was not a venue for a wheelchair, there were lots of cobblestones and even when there was some even ground they kept throwing obstacles in our path. We ended up leaving mom near the edge of the courtyard and Adrienne and I headed in. Then we headed right back out, if I never see the inside of another cathedral that would be OK with me. So we just waited until the guide came back and then we got back on the bus. Adrienne got a few more souvenirs and we were very happy with this trip.

The dock we are at is definitely the ugliest of the ones we have seen, and the city is not nearly as clean or simple as the other cities we have been to on this trip but the heart of the city is really beautiful.

We were back on the boat in plenty of time for lunch and now we are playing Scattagories and kicking some more butt. We were hoping that we might have a day off but we will be in Estonia tomorrow

**I don't have time to put in pictures, you will just have to go to flickr.

1 comment:

  1. The perseverence and energy exhibited is impressive. All the talk about kicking butt and getting it kicked do reveal a highly developed competitive spirit. Keep winning all you can.