Tuesday, August 07, 2007


We woke up this morning to see the most wonderful view through our porthole. It was reminiscent of seeing the awe inspiring Alps for the first time though the window of our cabin on the Orient Express last year. We’d docked over night and as our ship was smaller that some of our fellow more corpulent cruise ships we were able to nip into the centre of St Petersburg bang smack in front of this golden domed church and also surprisingly tethered next to and dwarfing a little grey Russian submarine. I felt that a photograph of that though wouldn’t be so appreciated so if I did take a photo, I’ll keep it to myself!

Heading towards Russia has given me a certain fascination for eggs. Not only does Oscar grant me the finest ham and cheese omelette each morning, and I don’t even need to say anything. He spots me making my way across the Lido and on goes the frying pan. If there’s a queue I can saunter over and after our daily catch up the omelette is mine. The others in the queue wonder how I can request an omelette without seemingly uttering a word. But it’s not just hen’s egg that I am becoming addicted to but Fabergé ones. Well to be honest, Fabergé pendant necklace copies as the originals are a little pricey. I’ve already secured a gorgeous black, silver and sparkly one and I hope can spot some more on our foraging mission to St Petersburg. My egg quest is slightly hampered by being not a great fan of yellow gold and only want mine silver anointed with silver or white gold, that desire certainly restrict my choices.

You cannot visit Russia without the necessary visas so unless you’ve have consulted the relevant embassies beforehand, it is only permitted to go ashore if you are participating in an arranged excursion. We are and we get to see our first taste of the opulence and magnificence of both Russian architecture and history. We see the wonderfully named Peter & Paul Fortress, numerous bridges and squares and admire the splendour of the Church of the Spilled Blood. We also get the opportunity visit various street markets and bazaars where I can indulge in more egg spotting and another fine black and white specimen becomes mine. And I get a few presents as well for a couple of glamorous girls who are having birthdays soon.

I also add this rather fetching strawberry adorned Russian doll fridge magnet inscribed on the reverse with “from Russia with love” from a perfect English speaking street vendor who is most excited to get some US Dollars in his hot hand. He is trying to make all sorts of deals regarding multiple purchases of fridge magnets but my fridge isn’t that big unfortunately!

We have another early quick dinner as we are off to witness a Russian Folk Dancing show. Tonight’s delights are Layered Cod and Herb Terrine with Leeks and Prawn Salad Served with a Lemon and Dill Dressing followed by Cauliflower Soup with Roast Almond Cream. Then after the briefest of pauses we have Gratinated Fusilli Pasta with Bayonne Ham, Mushrooms and Emmenthal Cream and immediately followed by Sugar Free Poached Pear in Red Wine.

It does occur to me that as they are clearly under strict instructions to whisk us through the meal promptly they should consider shorter menu choices. We could have had Cod & Herb Terrine followed by Cauliflower Soup, Ham & Mushroom Pasta with a Poached Pear for dessert.

Wearing one of my new eggs we head off to enjoy a colourful, lively evening of Russian folk dancing. Obviously we have no idea what they’re singing about but somehow you get the gist. Generally boy meets girl, boy somehow upsets girl, he shows off (a lot!) and then tries to woo her back and eventually he succeeds. It’s all very animated and dramatic with vibrant costumes, energetic singing and leaping about. It’s a fabulous introduction to our Russian holiday.

On returning to the ship, extreme craving for chocolate drives me to explore tonight’s snacks in the Palm Court. The theme is Japanese so I am suspecting that chocolate might be a challenge. I secure some 'chocolate' biscuits but the only similarity to chocolate is possibly the colour. The on board shop has to close whilst in port due to customs regulation and that's where the only supply of chocolate exists. I will just have to make do until we leave Russian.

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