The family left Zerbst on January 10, 1744. They stopped in Berlin to see King Frederick II. A few days later Sophie said good-bye to her father in Schwedt on the river Oder, then she and her mother were on their way. The journey was long and exhausting in the middle of the winter. When they reached the border, they were met by sledges the Empress had sent. They travelled the rest of the way in luxury. At the arrival in St. Petersburg they learned that the court was at the time in Moscow. So, after a short rest, they again set out, because they wanted to be there for the Grand Duke's birthday on February 10. The Empress Elizabeth seemed to have taken an instant liking to Sophie. The Grand Duke was glad to see them, after all Johanna was his father's first cousin. Sophie noticed a certain frailty about Peter, and he was prone to all sorts of illnesses. He was both physically and emotionally retarded, having grown up without a mother and with a father who had not spent much time with him. He was a child who had never known love and affection. Sophie also noticed that he occupied himself with childish games, that he was very home sick, but above all he hated the country over which he was destined to reign. He was a firm believer in the Lutheran faith and loved everything Prussian. King Frederick was his hero.