Friday, November 23, 2012

St. Petersburg Anyone?

Did you know that you can take a lovely cruise ship from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, spend two nights in a luxurious hotel, and return to Helsinki without all the stuff and bother of obtaining a Russian Visa?  Well you can on the St. Peter Line and it is an adventure inside of an adventure.

In talking to some friends who had visited St. Petersburg some years ago we heard that it was a dreary run-down colorless place that definitely needed some TLC if it was going to attract international tourists once again.   Presto!  It has received a humdinger of a makeover and is now an absolute treat.

Our excursion began in a comfy stateroom on the good ship Princess Maria.

We watched Helsinki recede as we sat down to  a luxurious dinner.


Then it was a stroll to explore the ship

 The weather was balmy and a summer sunset completed our sail on the Baltic. 

And guess what! On waking the following morning we were able to see Russia from our window.   

The St. Petersburg harbor complex must be one of the largest in the world. While we ate our breakfast we cruised silently  down a seemingly endless set of  channels lined with  ships and docks piled high with goods either coming or going. 

We hadn't seen such a seagoing spectacular since we traversed the Panama Canal. 
Upon disembarking we did have to endure some long lines at Russian passport control,  but once outside a St. Peter Line van whisked us to our hotel--The Sokos Palace Bridge. 

Our room was elegant.

The lobby was spacious.

And the dining room was out of this world or I guess more aptly under this world as it was carved out of the vaults of an old warehouse.   Ironically it was called Seville and featured Spanish cuisine.


Next up a tour of the city.

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