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Bucket list #17: St. Petersburg, Russia Part 3

And now the final entry on St. Petersburg. There was so much to see and do that I had to add multiple entries, and I have chosen to focus on the photos as the city was so beautiful, words could not describe it. So please enjoy this section on Catherine’s Palace, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and more…

Catherine’s Palace

Catherine’s Palace was the summer residence of the Tsars and Tsarinas, and was built in 1717 by Catherine the I, wife of Peter the Great. Their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, enlarged the palace and was infamous for her extravagance. As our guide noted “she was known to walk through the halls shouting More Gold, More Gold. When she died she left the country with around 13 000 dresses and a handful of rubles”. Not sure if this is accurate but it appears to be the general opinion of Russian tour guides. Catherine the Great was the next inhabitant and her additions were a lot less extravagant, focusing more on comfort.

Welcoming Commitee

Welcoming Commitee

Welcoming Committee

Welcoming Committee

Stunning exterior

Stunning exterior

Catherine's Palace

Keeping us entertained while we waited in line

Keeping us entertained while we waited in line

on the ceiling in the entry way

on the ceiling in the entry way

Original Delft tiles serve as exterior of numerous fireplaces used to heat the palace

Original Delft tiles serve as exterior of numerous fireplaces used to heat the palace

The gold rooms, 3 rooms one of the other covered in gold

The gold rooms, 3 rooms one of the other covered in gold

Stunning artwork everywhere

Stunning artwork everywhere

A slightly different style...

A slightly different style…

Catherine's Palace

Peterhof Palace or the Petrodoverts

The Peterhof Palace has been compared to the Palace of Versailles for it’s numerous fountains spread throughout the stunning grounds. All of the fountains are gravity fed, there are no pumps to be found at all. Here are a few of my favorites…

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace

We were exceptionally lucky with our weather, clear blue sky and temperatures just high enough not to need a sweater. It made the gardens of Peterhof downright spectacular. There is so much in St. Petersburg that I could write another 5 posts, everything from the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Isaacs

St. Isaacs Cathedral

With it's stunning domed roof

With it’s stunning domed roof

To it’s impeccably clean underground/subway, the most common comment from the guests was just how clean and how “nice” it smelled compared to the underground in their city….

Stunning art at all stops, this one had chandeliers and crystal pillars

Stunning art at all stops, this one had chandeliers and crystal pillars


St. Petersburg Underground

St. Petersburg surprised me at every turn, glorious green spaces, incredible architecture and an amazing history, very unlike what you expect to see in a communist country… I hope to return with more time to explore!!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2016 in Cruise, Cruise Ship, RTW, Travel

 

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Touring Tortola

BVI

We had explored numerous islands in the US Virgin Islands but finally we were stopping at the stunning British Virgin Islands, BVI.

Our port of call was in Road Town, Tortola, the largest and most populated of the islands. Legend has it that when Christopher Columbus originally named it Tortola, meaning “Island of the Turtle Doves”. (according to Wikipedia).

Either way the island was stunning. Blue waters, rich history and rolling hills.

View of cruise port

View of cruise port

House with a View

A lot of the places we saw were stunning houses with breathtaking views. I hate to imagine what one of these would cost but we all estimated a million or more.

Island Views

Island Views

Tortola (8)

Virgin Beach

Finally we got to the place the tour was waiting for, the virgin beach. We were the first ones there, absolutely no one else, we walked to the water line and for a moment everyone just stared, perhaps sighed a little, a stunning caribbean beach with NO ONE else!!! Woohoo!!!
Tortola (11)

Tortola (13)

Now, usually, when I go on tours that have beach time I just sit and wait for the tour to be over. The beaches are super crowded, people are fighting for sun beds…. it’s just safer to be out of the way.
But here, it was so glorious and I had brought my snorkel equipment. So wading in I found myself faced by thousands of tiny silvery fish in a huge bait ball, sea anemones, coral and as I turned around….a rather large barracuda that looked hungrily at the bait ball. I decided to explore a little bit closer to the beach. In scuba gear I have no fear of staring down a barracuda, but with basic snorkel gear….

Time to Go

All too soon our beach time came to an end, rallying the troops normally involves walking around looking for folks trying to get them to the bus…. This time I stood waist deep in the water and encouraged them from there, it was very hard to leave.
Tortola (12)

The drive back was as stunning as the drive there, with more views and even some turtles we could spot from up high.
Tortola (17)

There is Always One…

It was a perfect day, with perfect weather and great guests. Back at the ship you would expect everyone to rave about it, and recommend it left, right and center… but there is always one!

A couple came and complained that there were no palm trees, and in their opinion a virgin beach should have palm trees.. they wanted a refund. I have no idea how the tour manager kept a straight face…

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Cruise, Cruise Ship

 

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Yeah Mon’! Jamaican Bobsled Team!

Working as a Social Hostess on my cruise ship means I get to go along on excursions in most ports. There is no certainty to which excursion you will be sent on and while we are often sent on the…less exciting ones… there are times when we get a chance to experience some heart stopping adrenalin rushing intense moments of terror mixed with sheer joy… Bobsledding in Jamaica was one of these for me.

The Jamaican Bobsled Team
We only get our schedules the night before around 10pm, so it is always a surprise as to if and which excursion we might go on. We are allowed to request/suggest ones we would enjoy but 9 times out of 10 it is something out of left field.

When I saw Jamaican Bobsled Adventure I was dumbstruck (a rare occurrence). I am not a fan of speed, I have never been on a roller coaster (unless you count the pirate ship and even that turns me to jello) and the only thing I could think of was the movie Cool Runnings. 

But, I try to do what I am told and figured may as well give it a go, and what a go it was. It takes about an hour drive north from the Falmouth Cruise Ship terminal to reach Mystic Mountian, Ocho Rios. Along the drive you are never sure what you may see.

Such as the "Future" walmart...

Such as the “Future” walmart…

Once there we had a short wait in line before taking a leisurely cable car ride through the lush jungle up to the top of the bobsled ride.
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view of Montego bay and the cruise ships anchored there

view of Montego bay and the cruise ships anchored there

We Be BOBSLEDDING!!!

Just to give you an idea of how this works, these are 1 person sleds set on rails through the jungle. Usually the driver goes alone, but in cases of kids or those struck with terror, you can hook 2 sleds together. The entire ride is gravity fed, but there are levers to control your speed. However, if you control your speed too much then you will get stuck on the rails, causing the staff to come fetch you and you looking embarrassed once fetched. We waited in line for over an hour as 2 people, from a different cruise line, breaked too much and got stuck. As the manager went to go get yet another victim of fear, he mumbled something along the lines of “If anyone else breaks… I swear….”. I feared that I may become the next victim of his wrath. One of my amazing guests, a 22 yr old French Canadian lad offered to let me hook up to his bobsled and he would do the driving. We decided this was best….
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As we turned the first corner I started to pray…
As I mentioned the ride is completely gravity fed, so there is no steering, you just have to hope the sled stays on the rails. You whip down the hill and round the corners, over and under. As you whipe round the corners it felt as if my sled was going to keep going while my perfectly calm and capable drivers’ would continue on the rails. To truly understand the adrenalin rush here is a little video to give you a taste (’cause, yes, my cohort was not only a capable driver who refused to use any breaks, but apparently he could video it at the same time)…

BOBSLED VIDEO

Needless to say the mandatory photo that is taken shows my cohort screaming with glee, arms in the air. As for me all you see if the hunched over back of someone screaming in terror.

Even though I was terrified and I am fairly certain my life flashed before my eyes on more than one turn…

IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE

…the gentle cable car ride down was most likely my favorite

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Cruise, Cruise Ship, Uncategorized

 

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