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St Petersburg

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

7th August, 2014

The night soon passed, one hour forward on the clocks and twilight continuing until long after the sun had set. By the time I was back on the bridge, at some very un-Christian hour, twilight was back and a rather jolly Russian pilot of some significant size boarded before five. With little rain for some considerable time, water levels in the harbour were low, so low in fact that the ship seemed to have a different idea to mine as to the berth we had been designated. A degree of maritime brute force sorted out the problem and we berthed on schedule.

Passengers went ashore asking me ‘What’s that word for thank you’? referring to my little Russian language lesson given over the public address. Apparently some of them even managed to get the pronunciation right and made the immigration ladies smile, which was really the purpose of the exercise. I remained on board until the evening, then taking the ‘Exclusive Hermitage’ tour, as did our special guest, as I had mentioned I would go if she did. We were with a relatively small party and were taken round some of the rooms before sitting down in the Large Italian Skylight Hall to listen to the State Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg. The room, the music, the acoustics, all made this a wonderful evening, even if there hadn’t been an ex-Bond girl with us. In the coach later I asked whether she had enjoyed the performance, ‘Very much so’ she replied, ‘and the ‘Pavane’ brought a tear to my eye’. It was indeed very special. Back on board we had a little caviar before retiring……well, when in Russia.

It was a warm humid night and the following day was to be even hotter, 90 degrees (in proper language) by three in the afternoon. Those folk that were out all day must have been exhausted by the time they returned. Behind us, as we sailed, huge thunder clouds rose over the city and great cracks of lightning darted from above. The sunset, when it eventually came, was spectacular.

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