Born for Brilliant Books

Kath Saunders, Independent Usborne Organiser

A look back on our Passage to St Petersburg

24th April 2019

Excitement levels were high as we met at the British Airways desk at London Heathrow's Terminal 3. With bags checked, plane boarded and seat belts securely fastened, we were off!

Eager to get exploring, Helsinki greeted us with glorious blue skies and sunshine as we embarked on a fascinating walking tour of the city. Taking in the historic Senate Square, magnificent Presidential Palace and impressive Finnish parliament, we wasted no time immersing ourselves in Helsinki's picturesque charm. Our "Welcome Dinner with the MD" was the perfect conclusion to a wonderful first day as everyone took the opportunity to relax and congratulate each other's successes, over a delicious traditional Finnish meal and some well-earned drinks.

Day two began with a visit to the striking Sibelius Monument en route to the Temppeliaukio Church - a subterranean marvel carved right out of the bedrock! Elevenses are important wherever you are in the world, so we made sure to stop for a coffee and traditional Finnish cake on the way to Porvoo, a picturesque old wooden painted town which captured our hearts as we captured it on our cameras.

That afternoon we had a boat to catch, and we boarded the MS Princess Anastasia full of anticipation for our Russian adventures. Our passage just wouldn't have been complete without bubbles, so we made the most of another opportunity to raise a toast as our Achievers shared their Usborne journeys with each other. As they say in Russia: 'Zazdarovje!'

The magic started early as we were woken by the cracking ice as our ship made its way into dock. Scarves and gloves at the ready, we were quickly left awestruck by St. Petersburg's breath-taking architecture as we toured St. Isaac's Cathedral and the magnificent Church of the Spilled Blood.

There's good reason St. Petersburg is known as 'Gorod Muzei' - the 'museum city' - and day four was spent wandering open-mouthed round the Hermitage. The world's second largest art museum, our Achievers were also delighted to discover that the museum has its own little army of cats, who guard the pieces of art stored in the cellars!

Filled to the brim with culture, we still had room for a little more art as we donned our glad rags for a "Farewell Dinner with the MD" at the Sunduk Art Cafe. Bonded by a wonderful shared experience, our Achievers discussed their goals and aspirations for the year ahead.

Our final day in St. Petersburg saw us enjoy a guided tour of the fabulous Faberge Museum. A different kind of egg was added to our Easter wish lists as we marvelled over the world's largest collection of jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs. Stopping at the formidable Yusupov Palace (where we relaxed in our own private theatre!) on our way back to the MS Princess Anastasia, we boarded the boat as pictures of Baltic contentment.

Waking up to yet more of Helsinki's blue skies and sunshine, we made one last stop at the heavenly Oodi Library (a bookworm's paradise!). Wandering the city streets feeling thoroughly spoiled, we all agreed that weren't quite ready to leave. At least we were returning home with souvenirs that money just can't buy - cherished shared experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

A big thank you to all of our 2018 Achievers. You worked SO hard to earn your place on this trip, and we hope you enjoyed every second!

What were our Achievers' highlights? Check out our video

"Laughing, letting go and getting to be myself whilst spending time with a lovely bunch of people"

"Building relationships with other Leaders and visiting places I otherwise wouldn't have."

"I now feel really clear about what I want from both my business and my personal life."

What will our Achievers take away from this trip of a lifetime?

"So many ideas and discussions from the trip will be used to forward plan with my downline [ ... ] it will be continually used in one to one discussion and group work to incentivise everyone to dream big!"

"As a whole, it's not so much the experience of the trip itself but the information and knowledge shared from other Leaders that I will use in my own business to see improved results, sustainability and growth."

"I achieved the Travel Incentive twice, and I'm using this to demonstrate that it wasn't just a fluke the first time around! It is within reach for everyone."

Feeling inspired and want to fly up, up and away in 2020? Find out how you could be joining us for a Cuban carnival!