I was looking through my old photographs the other day and I came across the pictures of Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer palace near St Petersburg.We went there purely by accident. The intention was to take a canal cruise through St Petersburg but when we arrived at the waterfront we found a certain difficulty in deciphering the timetables and information available. (I did a couple of terms of Russian at school – a very long time ago! – but had difficulty in remembering enough to be of any use.) Eventually, having consulted the dictionary and realising that handwritten Russian is not always the same as the printed version, I felt confident enough to ask for tickets and we boarded the boat.
It was not long after the boat set off that we realised that it was not going down any canals but steaming off into the Baltic. I looked again at the tickets and then nervously consulted the guidebook before confessing that we were going to be travelling more than 15 miles along the coast and I had no idea when the return boat would be.
But like all good adventures it had a happy ending. We had a very pleasant day wandering around the palace grounds (not dissimilar to Versailles) and on our return to the boat jetty we eventually found someone who understood where we wanted to get to. And we were back in plenty of time for dinner (I can’t remember what we had but it’s a fair bet that it involved borsch and vodka.)