Some years ago, before our first visit to St Petersburg, friends from the US, Pam and Peggy Zirkle advised us to book a private guide. We did so and Mira Bogachkova was assigned to us by Insider Tours. She was brilliant. So I booked her again for this visit.
Alexandra of Insider Tours and I had agreed an itinerary earlier in the year, and we met Mira outside the Terminal building at 10.00 am on Monday. She had with her a black Mercedes and its driver whose name I never mastered. The Russians had let us in. You either had to have a Russian visa obtained before you left the UK or be on an organised tour.
We started with the Church on Spilled Blood?
Truly amazing with gold and more gold and murals everywhere. Vast ornate floor areas and hardly a chair to be seen. The congregation stand throughout the services.
From there we travelled at speed across the city to the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral. At speed because that was the way the driver liked to travel. I couldn’t work out what the speed limits were but we were in heavy traffic and the roads were standard city roads. 40mph at most would have been the limit in London. We were being driven at 60mph or more at times.
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is to be found within the fortress.
It was time for a bite to eat. Mira took us to a small cafe. There was a problem with steps to get in and out. Mira quickly sorted that out. She found a young man and charmed him into helping me to lift Jane and her wheelchair up and down the steps.
Then it was back into the Merc and another race across to St Isaac’s Cathedral. Another vast, beautiful building.
And then it was back to the ship for an evening in port. Many went to the ballet, but there were no facilities for wheelchairs so we had to forget that option.