Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why a cruise and Russia

As a family we have taken the opportunities to travel while we have been in Europe.  All of the trips have involved seeing cities and their famous sites.  This summer, I decided that we needed to mix it up a little.  Couple that with a great way to see northern Europe and Russia for a relatively cheap price and that equalled a cruise for us.

Since coming back we have had several people wonder at our taking our children on a cruise.  We genuinely enjoy our children and spending time with them.  We also want them to have as many experiences as possible while we are here.  I don't know that they will ever have these kinds of opportunities again.  Emma shocked us by saying that she wants to marry someone that won't move, because she doesn't want to move again.  Emma is so easy going and never complains about our moves, but I guess deep down, she is tired of it.  This last move was pretty hard on her.  The boys all still talk about joining the military, so they still might have travel and experiences outside the US.  I personally hope they don't join the military, however, for many reasons, which I won't get into now.
We decided on Northern Europe, because of how expensive it is, how hard it would be to get there
by car, and because the cruises all included St. Petersburg, Russia.  We were afraid that with the whole Ukraine crisis, we might not be able to go to Russia too much longer.  Rob had to fill out a ton of paperwork, but in the end, he was allowed to go.  St. Petersburg was by far my favorite stop.  We had to do a tour there or get a visa- which cost more and took a long time to get.  We ended up signing up for a 2 day highlight tour through SBP
  We absolutely loved our guide.  Besides getting some very interesting information about Russia and St. Petersburg, we learned about the politics in that city and their thoughts on the Ukraine.  They believe that Ukraine really is Russia and should be part of it.  She also talked about all the things they were doing for Ukraine, how much money they were spending on it and it's people.  They feel like they are truly helping them out, even to their (Russia's) own detriment.  
 One of the first places we went was to the subway.  I was a little confused at first about why we would want to go to the subway, but look at the beauty of the place!
Our subway "tickets"
 Chandeliers in the tunnel

 Soviet Union era train- still running strong.
 marble and glass columns 
 We also took a trip out to Peterhof.  Here the kids are playing in the trick fountains.  Peter the Great had a wicked sense of humor and put trick fountains by benches and other "resting" spots!

 You might get in here to sit down, but getting out dry might not be so easy!
 If you throw a coin and get it to go inside his boots, all your dreams will come true- they had a lot of things that would make all your dreams come true.  We started saying that phrase before she could finish.  Sam made it in the boot, at least twice!
Lighthouse celebrating Peter the Great's victory over Sweden to obtain rights to the Baltic sea.

The Hermitage 

Our lunch- St. Petersburg pies, one beef and  one some kind of berry.

Super yummy!

 Hermitage peacock clock given to Catherine the Great- it was pretty darn cool!

We found Anastatia.  She didn't survive.

Church of the spilled blood.
We also saw Catherine's palace and the amber room and Peter and Paul's fortress.  It was truly an amazing experience.  


Searls Stuff said...

Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

you really built a memory- everyone looks health, happy, and interested

Robert Kress said...

You did not put into the record that you ran in the Saint Petersburg marathon, if only for a few yards. :)