It’s actually incredible to think that Class Afloat was able to go to Russia. Many students were looking forward to that port.
Let me explain to you how the customs in Russia were as they looked very Russian. You have to imagine 8 Russian military people who came in the boat in rank. They inspected our visas one after another and we had to wait on the deck in the cold. After looking at our visas, they inspected the boat with a dog. So, it was a very interesting experience.
St.Petersburg is very magnificent. There are very big buildings that are ancient and nice churches with golden ornaments. Some of the students went to visit the Orthodox Church and said that it was so nice and interesting. Some students went around St.Petersburg by bike and had a lot of fun.
For the port program, we went to the Summer Palace and the Hermitage. It is the old palace of the Romanoff family and now it’s an art museum. They say that if you spent 30 seconds looking at every piece of art in the Hermitage, it will take you one month to see them all. And what is nice is that it is right in the centre of the city so the location is incredible.
For my part, I spent a day at the spa, having a nice massage and experiencing the Russian bath. It was a very nice experience. You pass from a sauna to freezing water then to a pool at body temperature. After that, you feel so alive. A very fun part of the Russian spa is that inside the spa you get whipped by branches and you get to wear a Russian traditional sauna hat that you fill with ice. Then after the spa, we went to eat a very nice meal: subway so yummy!!!
I went to the Peterhof palace. He was the first Emperor in Russia and his palace is so big with beautiful gardens full of fountains and magnificent alleys. I think you could spend days there too, to see everything.
I found Russia very interesting, for an old communist regime, I expected it to be more communist than it was. First, there were many fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Subway and everyone had a phone and the service worked very well.
Russia was one of the cheapest ports I went to, so it was very nice to go in restaurants but not a lot of Russians can speak English. There is a big population of people from Mongolia who came there to work so its very multicultural. You can find restaurants of all kinds.
It was quite cold so if you go there one day, do not forget you warm coat and hat. For my part, I bought a traditional Russian hat made with real fox fur and I can say that it keeps me very warm at night during night watch. I will keep a very good souvenir of Russia.