We had a great time in St P. The guide, Mikhail, was excellent – a very interesting young man who went out of his way to be helpful with directions and recommendations etc. The opera was very enjoyable – there is something unique about Russian basses, the timbre of the voice maybe. The only curious thing was the timing – the lights went down while the orchestra members were wandering back with no sense of urgency – it reminded me of Spain!The Hermitage was exhausting but fantastic – Brian was a little disappointed that some of the rooms in the Winter Palace contained temporary exhibitions so it was difficult to appreciate the rooms themselves but that was the only downside. We also went to St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church on the Spilled Blood – very impressive. The hotel (Helvetia) was lovely – comfortable rooms and the two associated restaurants were good – we ate in both. It was convenient for everything we wanted to do and it was close to the bus stops – we used the buses a lot.The drivers turned up promptly every time.The worst thing was the airport going home – chaotic and rather ‘third world’. I heard someone say that it was time that the authorities spent more money on infrastructure rather than restoration.So all in all, a very good trip – my only regret is that we didn’t go for longer!