After crossing the Russian border from Finland, we proceed on to Vyborg for a lunch break. The weather is grey, overcast, rather gloomy. This photo of the church in Vyborg was taken at noon.
All the color is washed out of the sky and everything below.
Rolling into St Petersburg, the weather has not improved any.
The drab dreariness adds to the already uninspired government style of architecture.
Before this trip, everyone we know who had been to St Petersburg raved about the beauty and culture here. Didn't or couldn't see it. Is it the weather or the flu clouding the brain?
Colorful spirals of the Church of the Spilled Blood struggle to rise above the heavy grey blanket.
Driving down Nevsky Prospect, considered to be the hub of St Petersburg social life, a green topped ornate dark theater inches its way out to be noticed.
Then a beautiful red and white cathedral.
Yes it was cold and raining. If the sun would only come out everything would be brighter.
A combination of the dreary weather and a burning fever has me as depressed as the skies.
Checking in, the grand lobby of Sokos Palace Bridge hotel on Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg.
We decide to eat in the hotel the first night. Fresh baked trout(?) looks tasty, but not to me.
I'll settle for a hot broth to fight the flu.
Tried to get some meds from a pharmacy, had to settle for a fizzy aspirin and cold medicine.
Amparo says that if I took a few more shots, I would get over the flu faster.
Shots of vodka that is, she got over her flu before I did.
Her and Anna celebrate with the first Russian vodka shots.
The blueberry vodka yesterday was Finnish.
Taking in the Nevsky Prospect street nightlife . Many little shops are open and thriving.
Wandering around we felt safe even at night.
Yes, we really are here in the old USSR.
Not sure what they are serving here, but if it makes you happy,
then there's still truth in advertising.
Starbucks???? really are everywhere in the world.
The old Hermitage with Cathrine the Great's theater on the left,
next to the larger newer blue Hermitage museum in the center.
Many waterways divide up St Petersburg. Has been called the Venice of the north, but Anna says the locals prefer to think of their city as more like the Netherlands.
Amparo is excited to be attending a performance of the ballet Swan Lake
in Cathrine the Greats' private theater in the old Hermitage.
No cameras or recordings were allowed, but Amparo was able to get a shot with her iPhone
of the dancers taking their final bow. We were both very impressed with the quality
of ballet and the music in this intimate setting.
Has to be one of the top three highlights of our entire tour.
In a small town near St Petersburg is a very ornate old church undergoing renovation.
After glasnost, religion has experienced a resurgence in Russia.
All rails lead to Moscow on the map inside the St Petersburg train station.
After three grey days in St Petersburg, we board a high speed train to Moscow.
Not the slow one on the left, but the bullet on the right.
Leaving the St Petersburg rail yards. Those look like new apartments buildings going up in the background.
Though blurry, had to snap a photo of one of the few fields with crops we saw while crossing the Russian countryside. Am puzzled as to why there were so few cultivated fields. Most are standing knee deep in several years of weeds. Why is no one farming the land? It is obvious there used to be crops growing there as one can see the fence rows and ditches marking boundaries.
Anna says the government says the people are lazy and like their vodka too much... ?
We saw no farm equipment either. The only farm tractors we have seen so far were in the city hauling boxes of merchandise.
Hmmmm... I'll keep asking the question until....
After four hours flying along at 227 kph (121 miles per hour), we're in Moscow!
Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.