Monday, July 22, 2013

Finishing Up Russia

Hi there! Sorry I was away so long. I was in the process of moving from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden. We only moved from Utah to Heidelberg 11 months ago so we still had stuff in boxes from that move. Yes, moving twice in less than a year is as awesome as you think it is. And we may move again next summer. Please, don't be jealous.

Anywho, back to our Baltic cruise. We were in Russia!

Neva River, St. Petersburg Russia

This is the Neva River that flows through St. Petersburg into the Gulf of Finland. St. Petersburg is rather flat and our tour guide told us how the city suffers with floods every fall from the heavy rains further inland. By this point, we knew our tour guide was a little different, but according to her, Russia suffers the worst flooding in the world and nobody understands how hard it is for the country and the city of St. Petersburg. On a funny side note, every time we crossed over the river, she would say, "This is the River Neva." Except with her accent it came out like this. "This is the Reeva Neva." For some reason I found this hysterical.

We continued to drive through the city on our way to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. We got the feeling that she was only taking us to see things that she wanted us to see. So when we would drive past an interesting sight, she would let us know if it was worth our time or not. Mostly not.

St. Petersburg Russia

Through out the day, Miss Russia-kicks-the-whole-worlds-butt Natasha told us that St. Petersburg only gets a handful of sunny days in the year. Something like 60 total. Natasha told us several times how thankful we should be that we were here on a sunny day. So I started thinking, who should I be thankful to? Her? The Russian weather gods? Possibly Peter the Great? No! I know! Stalin! Stalin totally arranged for us to have good weather just like he arranged for the great subway stops for his people. (What am I talking about? Read about earlier in our day HERE.)

St. Petersburg Russia

Thanks for the sunshine and blue skies Stalin!

St. Petersburg Russia

Hermitage Museum St Petersburg

Finally she took us to a spot on the "Neva Reeva" where we were allowed to get out of the van and take pictures. This is the Hermitage Museum. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, it is one the largest and oldest museums in the world. It is located in six different buildings including this one, the Winter Palace, former part time home of the Russian royalty. We opted not to go to it during our time in St. Petersburg. For one, it is usually quite crowded. And two, it is not air conditioned and it can get quite hot in there in the summer. I wasn't really in the mood to squish my body against thousands of other tourist bodies so we enjoyed this view from the river banks.

Russian Cruiser Aurora

Here we are in front of the Russian war ship, the Aurora. Aurora was built in 1900 and was used in four different Russian wars. Remember earlier when I told you our tour guide told us about how Russia is always getting picked on and is never the aggressor? Yep. Nothing says "I am a peaceful country," like having war ships and tanks scattered through out your city.

You can tell from this picture who here makes a living saluting every day. I'll give you one guess who it is. Psst... come here. Guess what? It's not me. (Me whispering to you.)

Russian McDonald's

By this point, some of our kids were hungry again after the Russian pastry meal that they had deemed "yucky" earlier. So what better than McDonald's, right? While Matt and Mrs. Point ran in, Mr. Point and I stayed in the van. Our tour guide would not allow Matt and Mrs. Point to go in alone. She went with them. Our driver got out of the van and stood on the sidewalk, almost like he was guarding it. At this point I got it. We were being babysat by them. As in, "Watch those Americans. Don't let them go or see or do anything naughty. Keep an eye on them."

Russian McDonald's turned out to be fairly the same as most other McDonald's around the world. Alexander had a Russian cheeseburger. Since vodka is such a standard drink in Russia, I wanted to see if McDonald's had a vodka dispenser right next to the Coke. Matt reported back that they didn't. Although we did drive past a vodka museum where you can taste different vodkas. Our tour guide babysitter told us it was one of the only museums where you can legally be drunk.

Next, we were off to the focal point of the afternoon. The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded in the street by a grenade in 1881. The wounds bled heavily and soaked the street with the Tsar's blood. He died several hours later. His son, Tsar Alexander III, built this church as a memorial to him. Hence the name, on Spilled Blood.

The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

The spot where the Tsar was hurt has been completely left alone and is now a shrine encapsulated by the church. It is still the original cobblestone street that ran down the side of the canal in 1881.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

The church has suffered heavily during the history of St. Petersburg. It was ransacked and looted during the Russia Revolution (1917). It was used as a morgue during WWII. And then after the war, it was used to store vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Savior on Potatoes (those Russians are such smart alecks).

Church of Our Savior On Spilled Blood

Restoration of the church started in 1970. After 27 years of painstaking work, it reopened to the public in 1997.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

At 7500 meters of mosaics, this church is said to have more than any other in the world. That's a lot of Russian tile my friends.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

Here is the back view of the church. The domes on the top of the church are called onion domes and are used on churches through out Russia.

Some facts about Russia are they are on the Russian Ruble. One Russian Ruble is equal to three American cents. That's right, $0.03. And to say thank you in Russian is spasiba. So, spasiba for reading this.

St. Petersburg Russia

After one last walk down the canal, it was time to head back to the cruise ship with our friends (and guards) Natasha and Sasha.

St. Petersburg Russia cruise ships

We cleared customs and immigrations and went back to the port. We didn't know if we would ever have the chance to be in Russia again. But upon seeing these six cruise ships plus ours for a total of seven docked here seeing St. Petersburg, we started thinking that we just might have a chance.

Until next time Russia!

PS A strange thing about this day was that it was the Fourth of July. A big holiday in the United States, but not so big in Russia. Stay tuned to read about how we celebrated the 4th on an Italian cruise line in Russia!


  1. Found you through the I Love Bloglovin Link up and am loving your blog!
    New Follower :)

  2. Beautiful photos! Russia looks like such a magical setting. Thanks for sharing these with us! x

  3. My favorite is that photo of you all in front of the ship!

  4. Hello! Hopped over from Travel Tuesdays. Your Russia trip looks amazing! Love the pictures! :)

  5. WOW!! Your photos are stunning! I really want to make it to St. Petersburg, and this reminds me why! Thanks for linking up!

  6. I cannot wait to go to Russia it is def on my travel list. I love your travel posts too because you travel with your family and that is just amazing! I love being able to travel with our two boys, and I cannot wait to just show them more of Europe as so far they have only seen England and Wales since we became expats. Families that travel together are great. We did that as a military family growing up and now we still travel for our family get togethers now that my sister and I are adults. I hope your family does the same as your kids get older. :) Thank you for linking up with Belinda and I for Travel Tuesday!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose


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