Just a quick scan of our passports and we were back in Russia!
Back in the day, it was mainly used to hold political prisoners.
It serves as the final resting place for almost all of the Russian emperors and empresses.
Everyone from the founding father (Peter the Great) to the last tsar (Nicholas II) is buried here.
arguably one of the most powerful female leaders in history, is entombed here.
She led a coup against her own husband, abdicating him from the throne,
and sentenced him to life in prison shortly before he was assassinated.
Quite an interesting lady to read about!
Many were unhappy with his leadership and the poor living conditions brought on by WWI.
After being forced to leave the throne, he and his family were exiled and placed under house arrest.
The Bolsheviks took power and WWI came to an end.
Fear began to grow that pro-tsarists would rebel against the Bolsheviks
and Nicholas II would reclaim the throne.
In July of 1918, orders were given for his immediate execution.
Nicholas II, along with his wife, their five children, and four servants
were gathered into a room and shot by firing squad.
This brought an end to the Romanov Dynasty.
In 1924, the Bolsheviks were named the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,
which continued to rule the USSR until 1991.
After the fall of Communism, the remains of the royal family and their servants
were exhumed and placed in a side chapel of Peter and Paul Cathedral.
to experience a ride on the famous metro network.
Due to St. Petersburg's unusual, marshy geology
the city hosts one of the deepest metro systems in the world!
In fact, many stations were fortified to double as bomb shelters during the Cold War
dubbing it one of the most beautiful metro systems in the world!
By mid-morning we found ourselves on Nevsky Prospect peering into
a historic building with tempting window displays of gourmet food.
Inside we feasted our eyes on a variety of delicacies from around the world!
Everything from the finest Russian caviar to mouth-watering French macarons
and prized Italian balsamic vinegar were under one roof.
As any foodie, word-traveling photographer would, I... LOST... my... mind!!
Hand-painted German gingerbread
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to find such a high quality product in Russia.
We've been trying to find RedBreast 12 without success ever since we visited Ireland.
Our last stop took us to the town of Pushkin
where Catherine I built a summer home for the Russian tsars.
The facade of the palace was once gilded in gold and each room exuded opulence.
At the end of WWII the German's looted and destroyed the palace.
Much of its restoration still remains unfinished.
Its walls are decorated from floor to ceiling with panels of Baltic amber.
The original amber panels were lost after WWII,
but the room was reconstructed and put back on display in 2003.
Note: Photos are strictly prohibited inside the amber room.
As our ship sailed away from St. Petersburg, we came across an old naval shipyard.
This island fortress and its navy were instrumental in protecting
the city from many foreign attacks, including those during WWII.
Most of the people living there today are Russian sailors and retirees.
Boat and bus tours of the island can be taken from St. Petersburg.
A foreign country I thought I'd only hear about in the news was brought to life.
Another adventure I will not soon forget!