The State Hermitage Museum seen from Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshad)
The day we visited the Hermitage, it was packed with tour groups given in many languages. Our large Cunard group was masterfully guided by a Russian tour guide – a tall young man who was also an English teacher. He skillfully herded us as we pressed against other groups making their way from gallery to gallery; his calm clear voice resonating in the earbuds of the portable audio guide we all had to wear.
It was a challenge to get close to most of the art with such a throng around us but I still managed to find moments to enjoy looking at a few favourite paintings. However, it was impossible to get close to Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, one of my favourites. After waiting patiently to get close, unsuccessfully and with the voice of our guide fading away, I knew I had to move on.
I feared getting lost from the group and having to make it back to the ship on my own. But I suppose people get lost from time to time. The tour company anticipates such a possibility because each of us was given a card written in Russian informing whoever reads it that you are from a cruise ship and could someone please contact the tour company!
As I quickly moved through the crowd, I was relieved when our guide’s voice became louder in my ears again. Luckily, we came to the end of our visit without incident.
Crowd waiting to see Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son