Author: Mike Moran
One of the few places where it is impractical to visit independently because of the visa requirements. The choice is either to join a local company trip or use the ships tours. We chose the later, with two half days, and were not disappointed. The first was a walking tour of the highlights starting in the main square close to the Hermitage and then through the streets and parks to the Neva River. Next, past the gold domed St Isaacs Cathedral and through the main shopping street to the remarkable Church of the Savoir on Blood. Together with the bus trip we were satisfied to have seen most of the main central sites. Next day it was "Hidden St Petersburg" which included a tour and explanation of the Orthodox Cathedral, a journey through several Metro stations (all of which were amazing underground palaces decorated in bronze and marble). Later we were left to spend time in a local indoor market, including the cheese stall staffed by what appeared to be ex lady shot-putters, very reluctant to pose for photos. Valueing my health, I didn't try to hard to persuade them! To end the trip it was off to a cafe to try some of the local delicicies - no comment. So, two very satisfying but not overdemanding days. Finally, many of those who visited the Hermitage commented how crowdwd and uncomfortbale it had been.