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While cruising the Baltic Sea, we stopped at St. Petersburg for two days of touring with SPB.Huge palaces with Baronial facades line the Neva River, shining yellow, pink, blue, green. One of them is the Winter Palace of the Empress. Today it’s the famous Hermitage Museum, the second largest museum in the world. The Louvre is #1


We walked down the mirrored and art-filled corridors, but not the whole thirteen miles of stone corridors, twelve hundred rooms of stone paintings, objects and every kind of treasure, and two million items from all over the world.

And from all over the world, the people come to see them. Although Europe seems to have one museum after another, everyone wants to see this one.

My family and I were on a cruise of the Baltic Capitols. When you take a cruise it can be hard to organize shore excursions on your own. Many cruisers just book the ship’s tours. Not us!

We read reviews on TripAdvisor and CruiseCritic and booked all our land tours withSPB Tours. The owners are from St. Petersburg and Berlin and they run the organization with efficiency and a deep knowledge of the cities. The success of a tour depends upon the guide, and our guides in Berlin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Tallin were outstanding.

Our guide in St. Petersburg gave us an amazing Art History tour of the Hermitage.

Loot from other museums became the spoils of war and ended up in the Hermitage.  Every stage and age of art is depicted from  highest baroque to the richest Impressionism and down to primitive abstractionism.

Think of these numbers: The Hermitage has 40+ Matisse paintings and over 20 Gauguin works.

Take a tour of my a small sampling of my favorite works:

Picasso's Blue Period


Rembrandt's "Old Man"



Monet's Poppies