July 28th: we arrived in St.Petersburg yesterday after a 4 hour layover at Kiev airport. We took a bus from the airport to our hostel which was pleasantly right smack in the city. Having said that, we almost didn’t find the place as its main entrance was a completely unmarked grey door… No signs…nothing!! 🙂
We were pretty exhausted but since it was only 3pm we decided to walk around and get a feel for the city.
St.Petersburg is a beautiful, elegant city with a really lovely old world charm. At every corner, there are buildings that look at least 200-300 years old with ornate sculptures and pillars. Of course, we didn’t really venture away from the city so it probably isn’t like this further out.
The city is on the banks of the river Neva and there are a lot of surrounding canals that feed into the river. One feels like you’re never more than 2-3 blocks away from one of these canals in the city. The days are very long at the moment with the sun only setting around 11pm. The streets are extremely crowded as I imagine they only have this lovely weather for 2 months a year.
We walked along the Nevsky Prospekt which is a 4 km long road and is the central drag of the city. At one end is the world famous Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace and the other end is the Moscow Train station. We were in a mad rush to visit the Hermitage before its closing time of 5 pm as we realized earlier that they are closed on Mondays. Unfortunately, we got lost and didn’t make it. We were both upset at having come this far, and not being able to visit so we decided to drown our sorrows in some amazing Russian food (borscht and pelmeni.. which is basically soup and dumplings of Ukranian and Chinese origin) and and some ‘complimentary’ vodka shots thanks to a friendly waiter who I suspect wanted to practice his English. Needless to say, it was pretty vile tasting and I declared pretty much on the spot that I was done with drinking vodka on the trip. Of course, that didn’t last long as soon enough our waiter was back with another set of shots…which was even harder to go down than the first round!:)
It had been a long day and so we made our way back on foot to our hostel along some back roads where we saw even more stunning buildings.
We really like the city but the language barrier makes things difficult. All our maps are in Russian and very few of the road signs in English…which is why we got lost earlier. It’s a little disorienting but we’re getting the hang of it!:) After all its an adventure!