2013 0805 St. Petersburg: Got up a bit before 7:00. Heavy fog outside so you could not see the other three ships moored right by or across from us. Breakfast about 7:45 in the suite and then onto shore about 8:30 to go through passport control (easy the second time) and into the van with Marina and Sergei. We had an hour’s drive out of town to Peterhof (the “Summer Palace”).

Marina is very good in working her way around groups to get us through the ticket line before them and around them when inside each of these places. We had a 10:00 entry as did some groups. General opening is 10:30 for most groups. Well, as with all the other places, this one is fabulous, too. Cannot take pix inside, so bought a book to remind us of what we saw.

After going through the palace and listening to Marina give us a blow-by-blow history lesson (which is quite informative, but hard to remember – we need a set of charts for who ruled when and who was related to whom), we exited to the Lower Garden where we walked out to the water (Gulf of Finland). Right as we exited the palace at 11:00, all the fountains start and thousands of people are gathered on the steps overlooking the park to hear the music and see the fountains. They are all gravity driven and there are no pumps. And they’re everywhere in the garden.

From Peterhof, we had a fairly long drive to Pushkin (or Czar’s Village) where we had lunch – borscht and potato pancakes (and pumpkin pancakes, too). Then a short drive to Catherine’s Palace, tour, history lesson, pictures, and stroll through the gardens there. There is one room, the Amber Room, in which you cannot take pix, but is unreal in its splendor with the walls panels made up of amber. Wow! Favorite room of the day for me.

Then another hour or so drive back to the ship, arriving a bit before 5:00. Lots of driving, but well worth the visits. I downloaded pix; Marian did games and then took a nap.

About 7:30, we went to the Grand Dining Room for dinner. Great food and service, per usual. Sat next to a retired pediatrician and his wife, who had been his nurse. They live in New Hampshire. Fun conversation. Back to the suite by 9:00. Don’t have to be up until about 8:00 tomorrow since we meet Marina at 10:00.

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