The taxi ride into the city was a bit of a blur for me and it didn't seem very long before we had found my hotel and I was left to check in and make myself comfortable.
The next morning I phoned Julia and we arranged to meet at the hotel. She arrived with Alice in her arms and her brother for company.
The Nevsky Express Hotel lobby looking out
The Nevsky Express Hotel lobby looking in
After a coffee in the small restaurant next door, where we were met by Kate, we wandered off along Nevsky Prospekt heading further into the centre of the city.
I was stunned by the beauty of the buildings, the bustle of the city and the gorgeousness of the bright sunny day.
Julia's brother left us and I was guided through the streets by my three beautiful companions. I was in an exciting place with wonderful company on a fabulous day, what could be better?
We went down a side-street to a little square, gated off from the street.
The graffiti was colourful and interesting.
Autumn colours were well in evidence.
From there we went to the State Museum of Russia, a fabulous building, or series of buildings housing some great Russian art and much more besides.
It isn't just the style of the buildings that grabs your eye, it's also the colours they are painted in.
The gates to the museum compound, spears tipped with real gold leaf.
And from the inside.
In the museum itself I saw many wonderful things but there were two really special moments. The first was Kate carrying Alice by the straps of her dungarees with Julia saying that her daughter was like a drunken suitcase; the other was a painting called The Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky. The size of the painting, the colours, the detail, were all just incredible.
After a meal Julia, with Alice asleep in her arms, helped me to get back to the hotel.
More to come after I have managed to upload some more pictures.