St. Petersburg

We had a great two days here in the royal capital of Russia. It is a huge city and has much to see, too much for just two days.

We had joined one of the two private tours arranged by one of the folks on our Cruise Critic roll call. Ours was with “Hey Russia” and I was very pleased with value received.

Our guide Daria and driver Guinea (not right but that is how it was pronounced) were both friendly, very helpful and accommodating. The van was new and more than large enough for our group of 15.

The only problem with the tour is that everything is rushed in order to get even a glimpse. Imagine going to Paris and trying to see the Louvre, Notre Dame, another Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, a boat ride down the Seine, riding the metro and going to Versailles and another Versailles all in two days. Oh and at the sane time as a zillion other folks are all trying to do the same. Anyway, glad we did what we did but hope I get back someday in Winter when all the sights are free and supposedly empty!

Below are some of the many many pictures we took. It is a beautiful city and has beautiful structures most of which have been restored after destruction during wars and revolutions. Peter and Paul Church at their fortress.

The Hermatage, formerly a palace, now a huge museum. I did like that each room was decorated to reflect the art within it.

Church of the Spilt Blood

Boat ride on the Neva River

Metro

Peterhof Summer Palace

Catherine’s Palace including a very quick walk through the Amber Room. The palace interiors are a replica as in addition to war and revolutions, a fire destroyed much of the building. It is still impressive!

Tomorrow Helsinki….I need a sea day!

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Happy New Year!

LJS

 

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, Kwanza, Chanukah, Festivus or whatever winter solstice celebration you celebrate!  We had a great time with Mike’s family here in Houston including their traditional Christmas Eve dinner (we actually did it on Christmas Eve’s Eve) at Long John Silver’s…long story but suffice it to say its what we do every year!

Once Mike’s Mom left on the day after Christmas, we felt like our countdown to retir…ahem…ceasing work clock really started ticking louder!  We spent most of the week between Christmas and New Years taking pictures of furniture and getting it listed on local sales apps (NextDoor and LetGo).  So far we have gotten rid of the huge armoire, the recumbent bike/clothes hanger, the big orange chair, the coffee table and have folks interested in a number of other pieces.  We believe we have decided we will be able to use a UHaul container to have the few things we want to keep moved without us having to drive a truck and are hopeful we will be able to sell or give way the rest. So the whole “what do we do with our crap” conundrum seems to be moving towards resolution – it better, less than a month to make it happen!.

The healthcare question is still very much up in the air.  The company I work for was purchased in late October and therefore at this juncture I can’t get a good answer on how much COBRA is going to cost…hopefully that will be known in the next week or two.  Once we know that, we can determine whether we will go with it or if we will purchase a private plan.  More to come on that.

Now for the big news!

Mike’s Mom Lois is going to fly back with us to Copenhagen in September and after a few days in Copenhagen, we are all are going to set sail on Norwegian Breakaway for a nine night Baltic Cruise including Talin, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden.  (No Jane, I too was upset that Riga isn’t on the itinerary – I had so wanted to see the places you and Visi talked about so lovingly).  After we return to Copenhagen, we will fly immediately to Lisbon and spend four days there before Lois flys home and we head to wherever we have decided deserves more research as our potential new home.

So another chuck of our travel year is planned (and mostly booked!).  Now we just have to figure out when we are going to go to Ecuador and Mexico between June 28th and September 9th.

Oh yeah and healthcare too – ugh.