Amber Room Rating:
If I had known more about amber's history I would have been more awed. A replica bec. original was taken by the Nazis and never recovered.
Catherine Palace Rating:
Impressive, rich, had to keep moving which was ok. Crowded but we didn't wait in lines. One recurrent thought for all of the St. P sites: the royalty had all the money, the peasants had next to nothing, and the royalty didn't seem to care. That's just the way it was. Reading later about the wives of the tsars and the Romanovs it appears that some of them did make an effort to encourage women's education and welfare. But prob. only for their class.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Rating:
Didn't go inside. Fairy tale appearance, colorful, impressive.
City Tour Rating:
Stops for photos, running commentary, but Lana also knew when to give our ears a rest and she stopped talking, exc. to answer questions about everyday life. The lunch on the second day was on the rooftop of the Renaissance Hotel very close to St. Isaac's (we could see it a block away). Russian food, good. Lunch first day was at Summer Palace restaurant. Our group of six got put in an empty room, food finally arrived, not so good. We never saw the real restaurant so I can't say what it looked like. We were "isolated."
Hermitage Museum Rating:
Lana took us to the Gold Room (jewelry, gold work, silver) where the Museum guide gave a commentary, translated by Lana (who was frustrated at not being the guide; we told her to just give us her own spiel and skip the translation.) The museum guide was very dour, not very excited about these treasures. Lana selected a limited number of paintings or work for each art period, so we didn't have to stand for hours listening to commentary. The building itself is a gem.
Peterhof Palace Rating:
Denrus gave us a very spirited Russian lady, Lana, who kept us moving for 11 hours the first day and 8 the second. This was the Royal St. Petersburg tour; there were 13 of us. We did not wait in any lines exc. briefly at Yusupov Palace. She spoke excellent English, had a dramatic flair and lots of smiles (concert pianist by training). We knew it was to be an "intense" tour, and it was, esp. w. temperatures close to 90 F. Walked miles. A little too much time at Peterhof gardens for us but, oh well. I recommend this company. This tour was $399 per person for the two days. There were 6 of us. She was good with the kids (12 and 14)
Private Tour Rating:
Denrus' Royal St. Petersburg tour, classified as "intense." It was.
Included all the St. P. stops reviewed below.
St. Isaac's Cathedral Rating:
Fabulous building, massive, huge domes, artwork, icons. Would like to have had at least an hour there, but only about 20 min. No place to sit and meditate.
Yusupov Palace Rating:
By the time we got here, we were used to "splendor." Quick trip down to see where Rasputin was killed. Worth seeing but if it weren't on a tour, I'd skip it.