We only got about 6 hours to spend in Oslo. When booking our plane back to London to head home, we had to do a layover. No option. We chose to do a long one to allow us to leave the airport! It was only a 15 minute train ride to the city centre and we got to walk around and take a boat tour of the fjord and visit another fortress.
Did you know that only an hour and a half away from Helsinki is this beautiful place?
Tallinn, Estonia has a medieval, walled town center. We arrived around 930 in the morning and left at 730 in the evening. We did find ourselves short on things to do as it got later but it was fairly hot outside and it was wearing us out.
We took a tour of the bastion tunnels below the city and learned about how they were used as shelters during WWII and the Cold War. We also climbed a tower called “Kiek in de Kök.” It means “peek into the kitchen.” The tower was so tall, soldiers inside could look through the windows into all of the villagers kitchens. It was a lot of climbing, but I got great photos, like the first one, from the top.
We mostly spent the day roaming the “village.” We bought more souvenirs and had gelato.
Today we woke up bright and early from our amazing hotel to have breakfast and continue our tour. We headed to Peterhof, where Anastasia was born.
We only got to visit the lower cascade garden as we didn’t have all day here. It was amazing!! Our guide said it was over 100 hectares, whatever that means. Each fountain is run my gravity, not pumps.
After finishing in Peterhof, we headed to the Hermitage Museum complex. It is made up of the Winter Palace as well as several others. The Winter Palace is in the movie Anastasia, but isn’t historically supposed to be. Rooms looked familiar though! But no grand staircase in the ballroom. During WWII, this was one of the only palces to not be destroyed and restored after. They painted it grey because the Germans would fly over Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and look for shiny and extravagant buildings. If it was grey, it blended in. They would paint gold steeples grey also to protect them!\
The Hermitage portions hold a massive art collection. We saw Da Vinci, Michaeangelo, Rembrandt, and more!
We also had the chance to visit inside of the Spilled Blood Church. The church was build in memory of Alexander II after he was assassinated on site. The cobblestones he was killed on are still in the church under a gorgeous awning. All of the interior was made of mosaics.
After seeing the church, we went back to the boat. We all joked that we were returning to prison after our luxurious St Petersburg hotels! Helsinki tomorrow!
Today wasn’t quite what we expected. Our tour was meant to pick us up at 930. Well we couldn’t even disembark until 930 much less complete passport control! We finally reached our group at 11 am. Our guide rushed through the city tour in order to get us to Catharine’s Palace in time to see it.
After that, we began dropping off at hotels. Ours is amazing. Best hotel we’ve rated at so far. Our bay window overlooks the indoor restaurant that looks like it’s outside, we have two chairs, an ottoman, and an end table. We have a tv. The shower has a waterfall head and there is also a towel heater. Getting back on the boat will be rough.
After checking in, we ate and headed to Mikhaylovsky Square, where our ballet was going to be.
On the way, we stopped by the Church of the Spilled Blood for some photos.
Our theatre was gorgeous too. It was called the Mikhailovsky Theatre, or in Russian-
The inside was amazing. We were on, I believe, the third level above the floor.
Ashamedly, we only stayed for the first two acts. We had to walk back to the hotel and were nervous about having to walk back at 10:30 at night plus the chairs were very close together and the room was warm. I would have LOVED to stay for the whole thing. It was amazing!!! Everyone was so talented, but what else would you expect from a Russian ballet?
Overall, even with the kinks in the early part of the day, St Petersburg gets four gold stars. I have no doubt it’ll earn its fifth tomorrow when we visit Hermitage and Peterhof.