This post could just as easily be titled “No Running in Russia.” The beautiful city of St. Petersburg has more than enough sites to fill several days of travel.
But, why not a run after a long day of sightseeing? The weather was mostly beautiful, the daylight extended to midnight, the street facing the ship’s dock offered a scenic running route . So, why didn’t I run?
I learned prior to the trip that I would not need a visa for Russia if I was signed up with one of the travel companies located in St. Petersburg and was in their company during my time off the ship. To avoid the additional cost and time involved in preparing and submitting information for a visa, I opted to do a 3-day tour with a wonderful tour company, Alla.
Disembarking the ship each day, we passed through Russian Customs, showed our passports and tour tickets for the day, then met our wonderful tour guides at their waiting van. Leaving our guide for the day, we returned through Russian Customs located near our ship’s gangplank.
All of this worked well until evening came and from my cabin window I saw people running, biking, walking long into the almost white night. And here was I without a visa to join them. Early evening with the sun still high, I see people stretched out enjoying the sunshine. I could do the same on shipboard, but this was a case of the “grass is greener.”
What I couldn’t do on shipboard was what I longed to join this runner in doing – heading down the street for a run.
Second guessing aside, the days in St. Petersburg were filled with the sights that are not to be missed by travelers to this amazing city. We had the good fortune to be there on its birthday (May 27, 1703) so the city was particularly busy and beautiful. The experience, both visually and historically, in a city of monuments to czars and the site of the Siege of Leningrad where an estimated million people died of starvation during World War II, is far too dense for a blog post. So, I touch on a few of the sights that stood out for me. For a full list of what can be seen during 3 days in St. Petersburg, here is a link to the Alla 3-day tour description.
The expansive gardens at Peterhof with their weird and wonderful waterworks were immediately reminiscent of the gardens at Versailles.
My personal favorite was the Russian Museum, far less crowded than the many palaces we visited which gave us an opportunity to appreciate and view the art without peaking through hordes of fellow tourists snapping photos.The aptly names Russian Museum houses the works of Russian artists from the 10th Century through today. I was particularly moved by the depth of color and emotion in the 12th century icons. The art on display depicts village life and work as well as that of the noble class through the centuries. Here you will be privileged to see works by artists you may not yet familiar with (as was the case with me), along with others such as Marc Shagall.
My advice for visiting this beautiful city: Do your homework to understand its history, make sure the Russian Museum is on your itinerary, and if you want to run – get a visa.