Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finding Boston in St. Petersburg, Russia

Peterhof Palace, just outside  St. Petersburg, Russia
From  our cruise ship docked  in the highly guarded military port of the  city formerly known as Leningrad, we  passed through the rigid  Russian  passport control  and  met  our private guide,Elena Lukianchikova and  young driver Costia.  

the pyramid fountain  at Peterhof

St. Issac Cathedral...reminiscent of Rome's Pantheon 

 Hiring  a local  guide and driver for  two days was  an expensive undertaking, but one  made gladly in order to explore  the city  I had missed out on visiting when  I lived in Moscow during   the  perestroika years .

Costia, Elena  and Fulvio  at the end of  our 2 day tour of St.Petersburg

I found  Elena   through Tours by Locals and we exchanged many emails  to organize the  visas, entrance tickets , car and driver.  She can be contacted  also  through her  private tour company  at

with Elena in Peterhof 
The Yusupov Palace   on a St. Petersburg canal 
The first day we were beset by  torrential rainstorms,  but Costia  skillfully  criss-crossed  the city  boulevards  following  Elena’s  intricate directions, allowing  us to visit  several sites, including the  Yusupov Palace, without getting  completely soaked. 
Rostov columns seen  through the rain 
The second day  was the exact opposite:  warm with bright sunshine which made the gilded  domes  gleam  more brightly.  We visited a local market  and purchased  a round  bread before we began the  long drive out of the city to Peterhof .

 Since we had missed breakfast aboard the ship the  bread was very welcome as we drove along the wide boulevards flanked by gigantic new housing complexes.
Baltic Pearl, new residential complex, outside  St Petersburg 

loaves of  round bread 

inside Peterhof  Grand Palace 
Thanks  to Elena we were able to visit Peterhof’s  interior  and gardens   without  much waiting in  line. The  place was packed  for it was the height of the Russians’  summer holiday season and the  White Nights.

Grand Cascade  fountain, Peterhof 

In the midst of the glorious fountains, gilded sculptures and  tourist crowds it was quite  a surprise  to see  a mother duck followed by  her ducklings  scuttling  across the  lawns  down to the  distant  canal . 

make way for ducklings  in Peterhof, Russia
We were in  Russia at Peter the Great’s    Peterhof  Palace  but the scene was straight  out of   the popular  childrens’ book “Make Way for Ducklings”   which has been immortalized  by a  sculpture in the Boston Public Gardens.

swan boat on canal leading to Grand Palace of Peterhof
At the bottom of the huge cascade with its  gilded  statues and shooting fountains  we discovered  another Boston  icon-a swan boat! 
Docked near the bridge was the restored original   boat  Peter the Great’s visitors used   to arrive in style from the landing dock to  the palace.  
Peterhof's Swan boat 

Coming up are more  reports on the  Baltic cities …and  summer happenings  in central Italy. 
If you enjoyed this story, please share with friends on Facebook and Twitter. ..and leave a comment, in English, Italian or Russian.


  1. How wonderful that you could have the chance to visit St.Petersburg! I have never been there.
    Swan boats are quite common here,too. There are seen on some public parks with lakes and in the Linderhof Palace,built by Bavaria's King Ludwig II. He was eccentric, some said he was mad.He was an admirer of Wagnererian Opera and a friend and sponsor of Richard Wagner. He built the famous Venus grotto at Linderhof reminding him of the 1st act of Tannhäuser complete with lake and a golden swan boat... ,

  2. Thanks for your comment and info on the history of swan boats. That of Peterhof is so ornate...and people throw coins in to it,as well as on to some of the fountains... there were little coins all over the ground.

  3. Love seeing you and Fulvio as much as the places you both visit. Love you both!

  4. a very informative post!!!now we have our nieces, hopefully we can meet in august