First stop in Russia? The Renaissance Baltic Marriott and then...The Hermitage State Museum!

The Renaissance Baltic Marriott was our home away from home.  We were assured that we could eat the fruit and vegetables served.  We could not however, drink the water.  Fresh bottles of water were put in our room daily, a nice touch.

The sixth floor of the hotel was a surprise.   In Russia, it is customary for “working girls” to meet their clients in the nicest hotels and the Renaissance Baltic Marriott is a nice hotel! TIP:  If you go there, don’t visit the Terrace on the 6th floor unless you’re prepared to encounter this.  Very different from the United States, but…we would stay here again.

The Renaissance Baltic Marriott could not have been more conveniently located.  We literally walked out the door and were at some of St. Petersburg’s most famous landmarks.  After Chicken Kiev and vodka at the Vodka Museum, a “traveling” event and a good night’s sleep, we ventured into the city of St. Petersburg.  It has some of the most beautiful people in the world. The women looked like they had just stepped out of a fashion shoot… perfect hair, stylish clothes; all were healthy and athletic-looking. That being said, the city felt like it had an umbrella of oppression over it. It was as if the Russians were trying so hard to break out of the communist era yet it wasn’t quite in the past. If you scan the city, the buildings look bleak.  But when you look at them one at a time, you realize how intricate and beautiful they are. The people are friendly, too. I didn’t meet a Russian in the city who wasn’t friendly while interacting with us. A waitress from the hotel smiled and waved when she saw us roaming the city and a waiter from a pizza place sat with us for 15 minutes directing us to must-sees around the city.

Our first stop was the Hermitage State Museum, it rocked our worlds!  It was better than the Louvre or any other international museum we’ve ever seen.  The Hermitage houses over 3.7 million pieces of artwork, including priceless DaVinci paintings in rooms hauntingly devoid of people. Entire rooms are walled in gold and others in mosaics that stretch from floor to ceiling. It’s an absolute must for anyone going to St. Petersburg.  TIP:  Get tickets online before going!   You bypass the long line of people through the side door!  We spent the better part of a day in the Hermitage and still didn’t see the majority of it. Allow time.



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