The next day was a bit warmer but cloudy again when we caught the metro to the other end of the city and then walked to St Isaac’s church to climb the 250 steps to the cuppola to view St Petersburg from above. It is a sprawling city with most buildings only five or six storeys  high with many parks and gardens.
It was a short walk from there down to the aquataxi and we travelled along the river and stopped at the garden of the Summer Palace with it’s beautiful fountains and sculptures.  All of the sculptures were copies of the original ones which had either been stolen or had been deteriorating. In the main there were Russians strolling in the gardens and we stopped in the herb
and spice garden to have lunch.
We strolled through the large gardens with the river on one side and a canal on the other and from there we wandered the suburbs on the other side of the canal.  The architecture was not as ornate as in the city centre but was still interesting.

There were so many  coffee shops and restaurants all over the city and although coffee is quite expensive $5 for any kind of coffee. Most coffee we ordered was lukewarm accompanied by cold milk unless you specified otherwise.
We saw a number of vehicles with exclamation marks on their back window. Probationary drivers had to keep this sign on their
car for two years and they also had a curfew – what a good idea.

Despite the rain we decided to go on the midnight to 3am boat trip down the canal and onto the river to see the raising of the bridges to allow for the passage of merchant ships. They stay open from 1.30am to 5.30am so drivers have to make sure that they are over the side of the island on which they want to be before 1.15am.  It is quite a spectacle with all the bridges
lit with coloured lights and hundreds of tourists line the riverbank and many others are on the many boats.  We arrived back at the slipway
nearest the winter palace at 3am and we had a brisk walk of 45minutes back to our hotel. It was interesting to see the Nevsky Prospekt (eight traffic lanes and seven metre wide footpath on one side and about 5 metres on the other) without thousands of people and very little traffic. Many of the coffee shops and restaurants along the street were open 24hours.

We departed the following day on the “Sapsan” train from one of the three main stations – the Moskovskiy which was luckily only a short distance from our hotel. The trip from St Petersburg to Moscow took four and a half hours. The train service was very good and all the fast trains in Russia are produced by Siemens Germany so the standard was of course excellent.

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