Published: June 1st 2010May 29th 2010
I took the train from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. This rout was cheaper than taking the ferry over to Estonia and then the bus to St. Petersburg even though I would be arriving about the same time. The only problem is that I had Estonian money, but I figured that since it was so close to Russia they would gladly exchange the money. Well I was wrong about that, Russia only wants US Dollars and Euros. On the train I exchange enough Euros I think 25 for 1000 Rubles. I arrived at 11pm and decided to take a taxi to the hostel rather than walking since it would be getting dark in the next half hour. I was talking to the taxi driver and this lady on the street I think was trying to tell me to take the metro even though she only spoke Russia the taxi driver was yelling at her. I knew it would only be a couple metro stops, but I rather not try to figure it out now, so rather than paying $1 for the metro I paid $15 for the taxi. I didn't really care about the money, but when he pulled into this ally
that had a gate to get into it and started talking to the parking lot attendant, I started having flash backs to the robbery that occurred in Peru. Thankfully this guy only ripped me off rather than stealing from me and I was rather appreciative. That dark druged out ally was where my hostel was, there is no way I would have found that walking around.
The next day I went and saw the sights of St. Petersburg. Someone had guilted me into going to the Hermitage Museum but jokes on them I paid the student rate and took pictures of the place without paying extra for the privileged to do so. The Hermitage was huge, they say you need days to look at it all. Well I'm not sure who they are suggesting that for. After a couple hours I was ready to go, the problem was that after deciding to leave it took me another hour to get out of the place.
I had to exchange the rest of my Euros and used that money for my expenses, but I still had not paid my hostel and I needed to get a train to Moscow. The
first ATM I went to only had card symbols that were not compatible with my card so I had to look for a European ATM. I found one of those and tried my debit card. It didn't work. Well I guess they finally shut it off after so many countries. I tried my ATM card, it didn't work. OK. I went to another ATM tried them all again with no luck. I went back to the hostel and got my ATM card for my other bank. I tried that at a different ATM, it didn't work. OK well I went the train station to pay with credit card for my ticket. They dont take credit card apparently but the ATM in the train station allowed you to take money off a credit card and get cash. So I tried with no luck, then I tried all my bank cards once more. None worked. I had $100 in cash that I was saving for bribes or emergencies but I didn't really want to use it. Unfortunately I had to and I changed that money which paid for my train ticket and hostel. I called my banks back home, thankfully my hostel
gave free international phone calls because I was on hold with them forever. I guess none of my banks allow transactions in Russia because of all the fraud. One bank offered to take the hold off but wouldn't take any responsibility of fraud transactions. Another bank after about an hour said they could do a wire but only when the federal reserve was open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm EST. Being the weekend and an 8 hour time difference, that wasn't going to work. In the end I was able to have my mom use Western Union and I went to pick up some money. I was a bit worried for awhile on that issue.
That night when I had no money. I went to see the bridges raised with a group of people in the hostel. Everyday at 1:30am they raise the bridges to the city or a part of the city or something like that and people go and watch. After seeing it I don't really understand the attraction. The next part that you are about to read is 100% true, its not really graphic and its probably suitable for all ages but its crazy. We were walking down the
street and we came across a dead person. He was lying in a pool of blood right in the middle of the side walk. We stopped to see what happened I assumed we were going to be next then I saw a single police office officer standing off the sidewalk calmly smoking a cigarette. We continued on our way, figuring he had called an ambulance but it was stuck in traffic somewhere (traffic was horrible all day long). One of the girls said on her way into the hostel a couple hours earlier she had seen the body and thought it was a joke. Well if he wasn't dead then he was dead when we walked by. On our way back around 3am we saw that the body was gone but the blood still there. When I woke up in the morning and made my way to Western Union to pick up my money the blood looked like it had been wiped up but was clearly still red and there was a pair of gloves right next to the blood. The worst part was that people were walking through it not having any idea of what it was, or maybe
they did and just didn't care, it is Russia after all. They made red foot prints for a few yards after the area of blood. Finally that afternoon when I came back it was all cleaned up, but from start to finish it took at least 12 hours.
St. Petersburg was over all a good time. I didn't get robbed, I didn't get killed, and I paid the student rate at multiple locations.
There are more photos below