Published: October 10th 2011July 4th 2011
Dvortosovaya Ploshad - Palace Square. Statue of Alexander I atop the commemorative column held in place by gravity alone since 1834. Winter Palace in background, now the Hermitage Museum.
That would be Санкт-Петербург, Россия - Saint Petersburg, Russia. There was an exercise in my Russian class that referred to the city as the Museum on the Neva River and I can certainly attest after spending a few days there.
$1 ≈ 29 Russian rubles or р.
Travel related detailsAccommodation and Food
Stayed in a very nice hostel called Hostel Life at 47 Nevskiy Prospekt which is the principal street in Saint Petersburg. The location was great - just 2 blocks from one corner of the Golden Triangle which is the area bounded by Nevskiy Prospekt, the Neva River, and the Fontanka River and contains many of the tourist sights. The price in a clean 8 person dorm worked out to ~$25/night. Definitely book on line as it is a popular place. Nice kitchen, free internet and PCs, and a great coffee machine that serves up a fresh double espresso for 35p. Good coffee is relatively expensive in Russia. At the fancy coffee shops, like Кофе Хауз (Coffee House) below the hostel, it is almost always cheaper to get a breakfast special which includes coffee than a la carte coffee. Also below the hostel is Теремок, an okay chain
restaurant, but for the best deals and to be an object of much staff amusement head to Cтоловая № 1 (Stolovaya #1, the name much in keeping with no frills Soviet nomenclature) at the west end of Nevskiy Prospekt. It is cafeteria style serving soups, salads, entrees, vegetables, and very rich desserts. A 5 or 6 course feast goes for ~$8 and everything is delicious. Few English words are spoken and everything is printed in Russian but you can make out most dishes and the servers are helpful. Transport
I do not recommend arriving at Pulkovo Airport (LED) during peak summer tourist season. The arrivals hall is too small to handle so much traffic and we had to sit on the plane for about 30 minutes before we were allowed to enter the terminal. Another long wait once in the terminal to get through immigration who can't keep up with the baggage handlers. Once through immigration, the baggage claim area consists of different piles of luggage taken off the carousels while the passengers are waiting for passport stamps. However, to the baggage handlers credit, the luggage piles did seem to correspond to the respective flights. Getting out of the
airport was far easier and quicker than getting in. There are a couple of ATMs in the arrivals hall dispensing large notes that no vendor wants to change. Bus 13 leaves from just outside the terminal to Moskovskaya metro station for 27p. To get to the center take the metro to Tekhnologichesky Institut, change trains and continue to Mayakovskaya station at the end of Nevskiy Prospekt. Metro costs 25p. for one ride of any duration. Saint Petersburg is a very walkable city but some places are better reached by metro. I left Saint Petersburg for Moscow on an 8 hour overnight train in плацкарт (platzkart) which is an open carriage with 6 bed compartments - 4 off the corridor and 2 somehow along the corridor. Cost was ~$30 including bedding. Can buy tea or instant coffee from the carriage attendant for ~$1. Trains to Moscow depart from Moskovsky station which is located at the Mayakovskaya metro station very close to Hostel Life. Platzkart is fine for short hauls but not recommended for long trips such as the 30+ hour ride from Moscow to the Caucasus which I briefly contemplated. Better to fly long distances as airlines are very competitive with
second class train travel also known as kупе (kupe). Russian Railways is very flexible with exchanging tickets. A small percentage is not refunded which increases as the departure day approaches. Петропaвловская крeпость
Petropavlovskaya Krepost or Peter and Paul Fortress is the original outpost founded by Peter the Great in 1703. I bought the combined ticket for 300p. but sort of regretted it because most of the exhibits are exclusively in Russian the one exception being the prison. The bell tower is extra. Walking around the grounds is free and you can always buy a single entry ticket for any buildings that you wish to enter. Easy reached near the Gorkovskaya metro station. Anglo Tour
Night boat tour on the Neva with a great English speaking guide. Leaves the dock 12:20 am and returns 2:00 am. Price is 700р. Go to the ticket booth next to Athena restaurant, say "English tour," and hand over the straight up cash money. Gets chilly on the water even in the middle of summer. After the tour can walk around the center as the sun is rising casting a completely different light on the city's buildings than during the day. There is also
a free walking tour offered by the same company meeting at the restaurant ~10 am and finishing ~1:30 pm. Standard tip to the excellent guide seemed to be 100p. The walking tour ends at my second favorite столовая (stolovaya) where a бизнес ланч (business lunch) goes for about 160p. including coffee. Just say, "business lunch" and hope there aren't too many choices.
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