Adventures on the waterways of the Czars
After 6 months of anticipation, we finally set off for our 70th birthday extravaganza.
First to the Hilton Heathrow T5 as 15 days of car parking is included in the price....A nice if expensive meal in the restaurant followed by a relatively early night. Up at 6.00 and caught the 06.43 shuttle to the airport. Had checked in online so soon dropped bags and cleared customs....minor delay as Russian visas have to be checked by a Russian speaker...and a hearty breakfast as didn't know where next meal coming from.
Plane left from A zone gate which meant we did not have to use underground link to zones B or C which take up to 20 mins to reach so that was a big bonus. Left on time at 09.20 and routine flight just under 3 hrs. Snack meal of a croissant sandwich at 11am.
Landed St.Petersberg 14.30.
BA had loaded our bags and the Russians unloaded them and we found them unlike others we came across later. After clearing immigration courtesy of a pleasingly stereotypical grumpy unsmiling Russian female officer Viking were in high visible mode and relieved us of all baggage quickly and painlessly and whisked us out and onto to a coach along with 50 or so mainly Americans before we could blink. Weather very warm and sunny. 40 minute ride into the city and the Viking marine terminal where 3 ships were tied up together,all leaving on different days,so as was nearest the dock as we would not be leaving until Thurs night.
Registration was quick and a buffet lunch available which was excellent as the GF does need regular feeding. We have an excellent cabin with large veranda and lots of space. A briefing at 17.00 which went on a bit but the staff are so enthusiastic it makes you smile. The guests are 70% American and so far have been great company.
The beer on board is Baltica about which more later. Wine is free with meals and having established a rapport one's glass is kept replenished by charming young ladies who smile a lot......food is excellent,fresh and plentiful. After such excitement..an early night.