The tour of the Catherine Palace today includes an outdoor tour of the Catherine Garden which forms part of a larger Catherine Park.
Being so used to spending significant amounts of time exploring the beautiful Catherine Palace indoors, we could not get used to having to spend the late morning under the blazing Russian sun! But the walk in the gardens was absolutely worth it.
In comparison to the Rosenborg Gardens, the Catherine Palace Garden is much larger and well maintained. You can almost see the deliberate effort to make this place grand and beautiful.
There is even a lake and a little pavilion within the gardens, which according to our tour guide was one of the most scenic places in the garden.
Our personal favourite is the Cameron Gallery which I thought was one of the grandest architecture in the whole of the Catherine Garden.
The Cameron Gallery is also the place where many bronze statues were situated, and is said to offer the best views of the gardens. Unfortunately, our tour group was in a hurry and we did not have time to explore the views at the Gallery.
The Cameron Gallery as seen from the pond. Wished I could picnic here….
The best place to see the Chapel of Catherine Palace is actually from the gardens. The chapel is out of bounds to visitors.
The Catherine Palace was built to rival the Versailles in Paris, and therefore, snippets of scene here actually reminds me very much of Versailles.
I recall sitting at a similar pond at the Versailles many years ago with a hot drink and a pizza in hand. Of course back then, we had the privilege of time in our hands, unlike the tour now where we had to follow the group closely.
Some of the lovely views from the gardens.
And to bring across the point of why we could not leave the group for even a step, look at the sheer number of tourists! In fact, we had tourists from other Princess Cruises groups insisting that they join our group simply because they were lost from theirs!
Our tour guide did warn us of the stalls (also known as tourist traps) set up outside the Catherine Palace on our way back to the bus. Amazingly, some of our group members who grumbled about the long hours exploring the Catherine Palace suddenly could find the energy to argue about why there was no time allocated to walk the shops here.
Some people are just strange creatures – given that this is a Catherine Palace tour and not a shopping tour. It’s another reason why we always preferred free and easy tours on our own to avoid having to listen to the wimps of others.
Join us next as we experience an authentic Russian lunch.