Day 3 Petersburg There are many ways to get to Catherine Palace and Peterhof from the city. Public Bus, minibus, hydrofoil, private large group tour. After exchanging emails with Alla Tours, White Nights, Davranov, etc. in March, I made a reservation with Palladium Travel Agency. I emailed directly with the manager Alexei. He answered every question without hesitation and willingly accommodated every request. We were picked up promptly at 9 am at our hotel by our tour guide, Sergei Akopov, PhD. He is well travelled, sharp, published and handsome Associate Professor Petersburger who lectures around the world. It was the first time he worked with our driver. We stopped first at Catherines Palace and cut the large tour groups. Large being ~20+. There were almost no groups our size (3 including guide). I took photos in nearly every room allowed. I was a huge fan of Baroque architecture in high school, so the gold leaf, silk walls, amber room, every exquisite detail was a feast for the senses for me. There are additions to the palace, classicism which was a love of mine since I visited The White House in 5th grade. Sergei covered a lot of ground and history in an easy going fashion. Hearing the stories of Catherine overthrowing her husband, exchanging letters with Voltaire, and hosting/debating with Diderot etc brought the palace to life He also spontaneously selected a restaurant for us mid way to Peterhof, so that we could avoid the crowds at the palace cafes. We sat indoor with a view of the prime ministers home and shared half a roast chicken, with Greek salad, black bread and San pellegrino for RUB. Very delicious! * note: a lunch stop was a special request arranged in advance. Sergei simply selected a place that wasn't at the palaces to save us time.