We got off the tube in the centre of town, on the main thoroughfare, Nevskiy Prospekt. This long and busy street took us towards the river. The tourist office was closed (not very helpful on a Sunday) but it was good to be out walking on such a lovely sunny day. When we reached the river Mike and I split off from Jon and Linda and continued our walk around the old fortress on the other side of the river. St Petersburg is a huge tourist destination. There were 5 cruise ships on our first day and we have heard that there can be up to 15 in the high season. The city was established about 300 years ago, so is relatively young. It has had a very turbulent history with name changes during the Communist years (Leningrad) and has been rebuilt since World War 2 as Hitler saw it as a mission to try and completely destroy the city and the people. Before we arrived we had been told that 12 mafia shootings a day occur in the city and although I knew that tourists would be protected this kind of talk made me think that we could have been entering a threatening gangland. I felt safer than I have done in parts of the UK. Everywhere we visited was very well maintained and there were no loitering youths, no graffiti, in fact nothing made me feel unsafe at all. The authorities must be working very hard to protect tourists from any crime and we didn't see any 'dodgy' suburbs.
We visited St Isaacs Cathedral which is more of a museum than a place of worship. We ate at a very nice traditional Russian Restaurant before our journey back to the van which took about an hour. We showed the bus conductress a picture of the palace near where our Stellplatz is but we got off early by mistake. This added another 3km on to our walking day which we didn't really need!