Anywho, back to our Baltic cruise. We were in 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.
Thanks for the sunshine and blue skies Stalin!
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.)
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
Next, we were off to the focal point of the afternoon. The 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 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.
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).
Restoration of the church started in 1970. After 27 years of painstaking work, it reopened to the public in 1997.
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.
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.
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!