And on to Russia. We were there for 2 days and I took so many photos here that I decided to do it in several parts.
If you do your own thing in Russia you need to get a visa. If you take a ship's tour or a private tour it can be done under a group visa.
We took a private tour over 2 days. The tour company must be registered to be able to take you under the group visa.
We went with Alla Tours and there were 8 in our group which worked well.
"The two magnificent sphinxes on Unversitetskaya Naberezhnaya (University Embankment), in front of the Academy of Fine Arts, are roughly 3,500 years old and are considered among the finest examples of Ancient Egyptian colossal sculpture kept outside Egypt. They once stood on the Alley of Sphinxes in front of the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. For nearly two centuries, however, it has been the waters of the River Neva rather than the Nile that reflect in their bottomless eyes."
"The sphinxes were discovered during excavations in the 1820s, and were soon written about by the great French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion. At the beginning of the 1830s, they were bought in France on behalf of the Russian Emperor and shipped to St. Petersburg. Carved from pink granite, the sphinxes weigh around 23 tons each, and the great neo-classical architect Konstantin Ton designed their pedestals and the granite pier, with its bronze lamps and griffins."
One of the gryphons.
The English Embankment.
The Imperial Academy of Arts on the Academy Quay of the Neva River.
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral built in 1753.
We weren't allowed to take photos so I stood in the doorway with the flash turned off and hoped no-one would notice.
The subways in Russia are very ornate. Our tour included a trip from one station to the next. It was incredibly noisy.
Our guide said the trains are so punctual that you can set your watch by them. Not like British Rail then!