When my sister and I first started talking about a Scandinavian vacation, we really didn't think about visiting St. Petersburg. (For me, it was a matter of geography. I just didn't realize it was Right There!) But once we realized it WAS . . . Right There. . . we definitely wanted to include a visit on our trip.
Russia has always been intriguing to me. The language. Those domes! The big fur hats. Dr. Zhivago. Nicholas and Alexandra. Anna Karenina. It was a "forbidden" country for so long! Oh, I longed to go! Oh, please! Oh, please!
And so. . . we went!
We woke up one morning, pulling in to the docks (very busy docks, I might add) of St. Petersburg. Yes, that's St. Petersburg, RUSSIA. It became very clear . . . right away. . . that we weren't in Kansas anymore!
The view from our ship. . .
We could also see. . . an Immigration trailer . . . right there off the gangplank of our cruise ship. Every time we got off the ship (or back on the ship), we had to go through Russian Immigration. Every time. (And the Immigration officials Do. Not. Smile.) (Just for comparison, we didn't have to go through immigration at ANY of our other ports.)
We knew that we would only be allowed off the ship and through Russian Immigration if we were part of a booked, official day tour. You can only explore St. Petersburg on your own if you have a Visa. (One look at the complicated application form and the expense, and we decided to just stick with a booked, official tour!)
The first time through Russian Immigration was slightly intimidating (which I attribute to the lack of smiles AND . . . too many movies), but after that, it was just a formality.
Other signs that we were . . . no longer in Kansas?
Sights like . . . The Hermitage Museum (aka The Winter Palace)!
And, well, there was my phone, too! It was so funny to pick it up and see where my signal was coming from. . .
No, we weren't in Kansas anymore. We were in St. Petersburg! Let the adventures begin!