Thursday 10 July St Petersburg day 1

Awoke at 7am (4am BST) to have an early breakfast before embarking on our first organized excursion. A fair day was forecast and with no problem going through immigration we were off by 9.30 to visit the Peterhof Palace just outside St Petersburg. This was the tour I had been looking forward too most. Comparable to Chatsworth House the palace was the summer residence of the Tsar. Destroyed in the second world war it has now been largely restored and it is famous for its gardens with 150 fountains. Luckily today these were working but we had a tour of the house first where you have to ware overshoes and leave large bags and coats in the cloakroom. This is standard practice in Russia. Took lots of photos (which you have to pay a fee for) but cannot use flash, and if someone did then the attendants would rush over and scold the offender. We then had a walk around the lower gardens admiring the fountains. Some were ‘hidden’ and would only work if you stepped on a particular stone. This was popular with children. We then had lunch in the orangey which was a four course affair with salad appetizer, soup, chicken main course and ice cream. This was accompanied by a small glass of champagne and a shot of vodka. After that we drove a short distance to visit one of the smaller houses associated with he Paplavce. Back on board in time for a swim before dinner. Tonight a lot of guests had booked for the Opera, Ballet or Folklore events so there were not many left. After dinner we went and did the general knowledge quiz before our usual Horlicks. Lots of photos taken and another busy day tomorrow.