The Hemitage and the Winter Palace
Actually a thoroughly imposing complex made up of five different buildings: the old Hermitage, the new Hermitage, the large Hermitage, the small Hermitage and of course the Winter Palace. There is a canal crossing through two of these and to tell you the truth I am not quite sure which one of the buildings I am standing in front of in the photo.
A visit to the Hermitage or the Winter Palace would have been impossible if we hadn't prebooked. It opens to the general public at 11 am – not the earliest of opening times for a museum - and we would have had to queue for hours. Our tour arrangements circumvented all this. We were allowed into the museum on arrival at about 9 am and we had the place to ourselves for a couple of hours. As we wandered around the exhibits we could see all the other poor sods queuing outside in their thousands - as shown above.