Near the end of our holiday cruise on Russia's waterways, we visited the Hermitage. Part of the Winter Palace of Czar Nicholas II, the Hermitage State Museum in St Petersburg is one of the great art galleries of the world.
We arrived at the Hermitage early and our holiday cruise guide nudged us to a point near the front of the rapidly growing queue. This proved to be a wise strategy as the museum, at first pleasantly spacious, quickly filled to capacity (it was August so it's best to visit the Hermitage out of season instead). After our guided tour Julie parked herself in the ground floor cafe whilst I fought my way back upstairs to see at least one Picasso - the round trip took me 20 minutes but was worth it.
The building is magnificent as we expected it to be, and there is a huge amount of original art by all the great masters, and much more. It would take days to appreciate all that the Hermitage has to offer.
Beware of trying to sit down in the galleries as the few seats are reserved for the fierce babushkas who police the rooms.
Looking out of a window of the Hermitage we saw the preparations for an open air concert that evening featuring Elton John.