After an easy flight, two silly movies to Atlanta plus two nice meals followed by a “sleep over” to Amsterdam, a quick flight to St.Petersburg, we were greeted by one of our tour guides Mischa. Luggage gathered and noses counted we were quickly taken aboard the MS Rossia to join our fellow travelers. The MS (motor ship) Rossia was docked a thirty minutes bus ride outside the center of historic St. Petersburg–but just a five minute walk from a bus line which directly connected with the metro three stops away. Our cabin was quiet, comfortable and centrally located with an outside window.
We were up and about to explore St. Petersburg the next day.
AnticipatIng St. Petersburg
In 1703 when Peter the Great re-claimed Eastern European lands along the Neva River at the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland), he established a fort to protect the area from possible attack by the Swedish army and navy. This fortress was founded on one of many small islands in the Neva delta on May 27, 1703 and that day became the birthday of the city of St Petersburg. Since 1721 the fortress has housed part of the city’s garrison and rather notoriously served as a high security political jail. Early inmates included Peter’s own rebellious son Alexei and later a the list of famous residents included Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin’s older brother, Alexander.
Since it’s founding, it appears that St. Petersburg was the instrument of the Romanov dynasty to display their power and European cultural presence. Whether The Hermitage, the massive cathedrals or castles-Peter I was bent on out doing his continental counterparts by incorporating all the 18th century innovations he had observed–military, architecture, social or technologic.