Neither kid slept on the train (ugh). Natasha passed the time on the train by playing with the automatic doors separating the cars.
We arrived after four hours on the train and checked into our hotel, the Pushka Inn, around the corner from the Hermitage.
Then we took the Metro to Smolensky Cemetery on Vasilievsky Island, where St. Blessed Xenia is buried. There was a huge line to visit the chapel built above her grave.
Natasha made friends with one of the babushki working in the garden, and she escorted us to the front of the line. Kid knows how to make connections!
Outside the cemetery, we saw the manliest Hummer ever.
Then we returned to the hotel, which had the smallest elevator ever.
... and tried to put the girls down for naps. Total failure. So we went to dinner. The restaurant had a kids' room with an attendant right next to our table. Natasha loved playing with her and we got to eat in relative peace.
The next morning, we headed over to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. It was apparently built solely as a monument to commemorate the assassination of Alexander II, and has never seen a service. Like a very ornate pyramid, I guess.
Everyone says St. Petersburg isn't like Russia. They're right - in many ways it really doesn't feel like Russia at all. I was reminded at different turns of Venice and Prague. With lots and lots of mosquitoes, since the city was built on a swamp.
Then we headed to a nearby park to chase some pigeons and hang out.
We also decided to take some Russian-style photos among the flowers. They really pose like this.
That afternoon after successful naps (yay!), we walked across the bridge to the Peter and Paul Fortree to check out the cathedral.
By some accounts, the (again, very un-Russian) cathedral contains the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and the rest of his family, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Others believe that the remains are still unaccounted for. In any case, this is the room where they are allegedly buried.
On Tuesday morning, we had two hours at the Hermitage before catching our train. We managed to see just one level - the second floor - in that time. Even if we'd had more time, I don't think the kids could have taken any more. I would have loved to see the rest, though.
Then we got back on the train to head home.
Overall, a successful trip. Now that we know we can travel with the babies without wanting to wring each other's necks, we are starting to think about where to go for the next three-day weekend!