First Update

Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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        The plane trip from Atlanta to St. Petersburg was okay, but hectic. To begin with, our plane, which was supposed to leave Atlanta at 9.30, didn't leave until almost 11.00 because of thunderstorms. When we did leave we had an excellent dinner on board our Air France Boeing 777. I had chicken and potatoes lionasse (I think that was how you spelled it!). Then I went to sleep, but I didn't sleep long because about an hour into our flight we were notified we were making an emergency landing in Boston because there was a medical emergency. It turns out that a person had a heart attack up in first class. We were grounded in Boston for almost 2 hours. At this point we were 3 1/2 hours behind schedule. Once we were back in the air and on our way to Paris for our connecting flight, I was only able to sleep for 30 minutes at a time... I can't sleep well on planes!
        When we got to Paris (about 4.00 pm Parisian time), we literally were rushed off the plane first and bused to our connecting flight which was waiting for us. This resulted in our luggage not making the connecting flight! The trip from Paris to St. Petersburg took 3 hours and I stayed awake the entire time because I got a window seat and the view was amazing. When we arrived in St. Petersburg, at 10.00 pm local time, the sun was out and shining. It was so hard to believe that it was night time! After deboarding and going through passport check, we had to fill out forms about our missing luggage. We were at the airport until almost 12.30. When we went back outside the sun was just on the horizon! The sun never completely set that night!
    About 1.30 we reached our dorm, everyone got as set up as they could, given the fact that the only items we had were what we carried on board. Luckily I packed an extra set of clothes so I had clean clothes today (Sunday).
        Today we did a bus and boat tour of the city. To be truthful, I was some what disappointed. All the building were in really bad shape, there was scaffolding EVERYWHERE (which I attribute entirely to the upcoming G8 summit) and the streets were filthy. Even in the areas which are "touristy" areas, the city was in bad shape. However, the cathedrals stuck out like diamonds. We got to visit the Smolney Cathedral/Convent and the Peter and Paul Fortress today. We also passed by the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood ( a.k.a. The Resurrection Cathedral). The highlight of today for me was the trip to the Peter and Paul Fortress, for it was here that I saw what I have been wanting to see for years... the burial place of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. If you know me well enough, you know I am obsessed with the Romanovs, particularly Nicholas II and his family. So this was my defining moment of the day, and probably of the whole trip, but I'll get back to you on that.
        We saw all the other major tourist attractions, including the Battleship Aurora (signaled the start of the Revolution of 1917), the Winter Palace (home of the Tsars in Russia, now the State Hermitage Museum), former KGB buildings, Alexandr Pushkin's apartment where he died (after fighting a duel for his wife's honour), the Markinsky Palace (where Parliament meets) and so much more. I also had my first encounter with Gypsies!!!
        Well, I believe that is all for now, seeing as how we are about to head to the MaxiDom (a mixture of WalMart, Home Depot, Target, etc.). Oh, and we just received a call from the airport that our luggage arrived and is being delivered to our dorms as I write this. Hope all is well with you all! Goodbye until next
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8,501 km (5,282 miles) traveled
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