Sunday, June 30, 2019

Zuiderdam MegaVoyage 2018-2019, Helsinki, Finland

Today, we took a taxi to Senate Square. From the Senate Square we went to the harbor area to look around and then to our favorite café, Johan Nystrom Café for coffee and the best ever croissant pastries. From here we passed Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, the biggest Orthodox Cathedral in Scandinavia.  We did a walkout the harbor, passing the Presidential Palace and visited the Market Square and did some browsing and shopping. The city was very busy with tourists even on an early Sunday morning.  We walked up the Esplanade and decided to take a taxi back to the ship...after being away on our 19-day overland, I needed to do some photo housekeeping and relaxing...  Another good day.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Zuiderdam MegaVoyage 2018-2109, St. Petersburg, Russia, Part 3 of 3

Back to Russia!!!!   We were the first off the ship to ensure we were processed through Immigration in time to meet our Tour Guide...let’s say clearance procedures into Russia are not quite as consistent as many other countries. Anna from Best Guide Tours meet us and we were off to tour St. Petersburg...since we had been in St. Petersburg previously, we decided to change things up and do an off the beaten path tour seeing different sites. We left the port and drove along the Neva River stopping at The Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and then to Peter and Paul Cathedral and Fortress where I climbed the fortress wall observation platform. Leaving the fortress, we drove past the Exchange Square, Palace Square, Winter Palace, Romanov Palaces, Kazan Cathedral, Singer Building, The Church of the Pantelmon. We left the van and visited St. Isaacs Cathedral and Colonnade and climbed the Colonnade for panoramic views...we then walked through the Alexandrea Park to see the statue of the Bronze Horseman and onto the to the Admiralty. On our return to the ship we had a brief stop at the Trinity Cathedral and a drive by the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Church of St. Isidore, Marinsky Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Palace, Mikhailovsky Theatre and Vitebsk Rail Station. Going through Russian Immigration was not a pleasant experience for me...taken to an interview room, required to fill in two pages of forms about my history and past and questioned by the authorities...with no explanation...other than its Russia!  The next morning we were back at it…..  Hoping it would be an uneventful day….  We were met again by our Tour Guide Anna and driver and taken to fabulous Summer Palace at Peterhof. Peterhof is a complex of palaces, fountains and parks built to rival Versailles. Returning to St. Petersburg we made a brief stop at the former St. Petersburg City Hall built under Stalin and the adjacent Park with a huge statue of Lennon...this area of St. Petersburg is designed in the Stalin Empire style we stopped at the The Chesme Church, a red building with very different design and then to Smolny Cathedral for a climb up the Observation deck. We returned to the ship early, did some shopping and cashed in our remaining Rubles...farewell Russia.