Amber Room Rating:
Very busy, but absolutely stunning. They've banned all photography, which was a disappointment, but so many people couldn't find the "flash off" button, or just didn't listen, that it led to a blanket ban, as the flash degrades the amber.
Catherine Palace Rating: Not Rated
This was the first stop of the day, so not too crowded, the sun shone, the palace and the grounds were beautiful. For us it was the highlight of the tour. It was incredible to compare the palace to photographs of what the German army had done to it.
Hermitage Museum Rating:
The tour took us there at the busiest time of the day, and it was impossible to see anything at all. It was an exhausting, unpleasant experience, with the constant fear of losing sight of the guides "lollipop" A major disappointment. We spoke to an American couple who had booked a minibus tour independently, and it was a group of only 4. It gave the guide much greater flexibility, and they visited the Hermitage when it was relatively quiet, though I think it was very expensive indeed.
Peter & Paul Fortress Rating:
Very impressive indeed, and quite compact as regards walking.
Peterhof Palace Rating: Not Rated
A wonderful, if tiring experience, which swept away all preconceptions of Russia and her people. The Neva River was awash with every kind of river traffic, including boats preparing for a Regatta and wedding parties having pictures taken on the banks. The cruise liner quay and terminals are set in a landscaped area which can be reached by car and on foot, and which the locals call "Area 51" It was mutual- we thought we were in another world too! Absolutely unforgettable.