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Published: December 13th 2009
We traveled to Saint Petersburg not quite in the style of Anna Karenina, but more like an average Russian - in third class! Arriving on an overnight train, but at a reasonable hour of the morning we found our lovely hostel, possibly one of my top rated on this trip.
We spent the afternoon exploring on foot, heading down the main Nevisky street to the river and the hermitage building, winding our way back via a coffee shop after walking a long way. All the buildings were very grand, much like Moscow, but as a whole St. Petersberg had a much more European feel than the other cities in Russia. Walking by the river running through the city, I was glad that the buildings have escaped a soviet makeover. A famous quote about St.Petersberg is that it is Russian, but not Russia.
With fresh legs we visited the oldest fort in St. Petersberg, the buiding from which St.Petersberg expanded. It was nice on the waterfront, I am a fan of citites with a river or a sea nearby! The cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is where Peter the great is buried, along with the last emperor of
Russia and his family who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
One afternoon, we decided to venture into the Hermitage, somewhat sceptically. It is a "must-do"in St.Petersberg, but I am no art expert, and wasn't sure how I would find it. It did however work out perfectly as by the time we went in, we were limited to an hour and a half before closing. I found a dance, and Degas special exhibition and found my way around the maze that is the Tsar Palace to see some pieces by Cezanne, Picasso, Monet, Van Gough, Matisse and some others who are not famous enough for me to know! I felt cultured, and I appreciate the collection is vast...but that was enough for me! There was a lot of walking involved too....it goes on and on and on!
Our last morning in St.Petersberg, and we had a few more things to see. It is quite a small city, mainly revolving around Nevisky street. We climbed over 200 steps for a view from St. Isaacs Cathedral, and the city is very colourful from above. A long walk, passing the Marinsky theatre on the way and we searched for our
last Russian lunch...I had a fish roe pancake which may sound very odd, but it was good, and if the locals ate it, I was willing to try it!
There is a cathedral in St. Petersberg that was modelled on St. Basils in Moscow, and it too was impressive, moreso on the inside with mosaics all over the ceilings and walls.
In the evening we left on a bus to Helsinki which was the most casual form of international transport I have ever taken! No reservation, no worries about availability, just rock up in the evening and you can jump on a bus to Finland! So that was what we did...ace!
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