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April 20th 2006
Published: April 21st 2006
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Hello from St. Pete,

It's been a fantastic four days in the "Venice of the North". We have so much to report from our first destination as there is so much to do in this city. Firstly the stereotypical view of a grey soviet city certainly does not apply here. This is a bustling European style metropolis that seems to have easily slipped out of her recent Soviet past and embraced many of the capitalist trappings of most major European cities.

I'm glad to say though that it has also preserved the beautiful buildings and architecture of its past and while there is some neon on show it is really quite low key so far - and the omni-present big brands are relatively unobtrusive at eye level.

We have been based near Nevsky Prospect for the last four days. This is Russia's most famous thoroughfare and stretches the length of central St. Petersburg. It is around 4KM long and is lined with beautiful palaces - (the most beautiful being the wedding cake like Winter palace at the Western end) and awe inducing churches and cathedrals.

The entire boulevard is criss-crossed by canals, bridges, grand statues of former leaders and busy shopping areas. We have covered most of the big attractions so far, including The Winter Palace of Peter 1st - this now hosts an incredible Hermitage Russian Gallery that includes paintings and sculptures from Picasso, Michelangelo, Van Gough in its 1057 rooms!

From there we visited the huge Cathedral of St Isaac's and climbed the enormous colonnade that allows you to view over the entire city. Other highlights include the Kazan Cathedral and the house of Dostoevsky. We also visited many traditional restaurants and sampled the local cuisine. On the whole its been pretty decent fare - a lot of blini's and pancakes and beef stroganoff. It is generally quite simple cooking and the meet dishes are usually served with white or red cabbage salads - it is actually pretty tasty.

The Russians themselves are interesting folk! Big hair, ankle boots with buckles, cross faces and dusty cheeks from the fumes of the city. They appear to hate you but are really helpful if you ask them a question. Very bashy though, there's no politeness in the metro, which incidentally only costs 7p for a journey.

We've just arrived in Moscow today. The hostel is great and the people are so helpful. Last night we went to a puppet theatre in St Petersburg and then boarded the Red Arrow, train #1 to Moscow. It was so exciting! Little cabins with little steps and a packed breakfast for all 4 people in the kupe. We shared with two small Russians who smiled at us all the time. We even got a good nights sleep on board! I can't wait for the next journey. See the photo of Pat on board below!! Off to the Bolshoi tonight to see The Nutcracker. Will post again soon!

Da svidaniya!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Russian Lady browses for an UziRussian Lady browses for an Uzi
Russian Lady browses for an Uzi

You can buy a mad big gun in a department store here. But only if you have ankle boots.
Babushka's selling cabbageBabushka's selling cabbage
Babushka's selling cabbage

Mmmmm pickled goods.
Inside the Winter PalaceInside the Winter Palace
Inside the Winter Palace

Grounds of the Winter Palace courtyard designed for Peter (Petro) the Great.
Dostoevsky's GraveDostoevsky's Grave
Dostoevsky's Grave

Graveyard at Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
Tchaikovsky's GraveTchaikovsky's Grave
Tchaikovsky's Grave

Graveyard at Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

These are my favourite thing about Russia so far (guess who's talking here!).
Mmm packed breakfast!Mmm packed breakfast!
Mmm packed breakfast!

The midnight sleeper train to Moscow.

21st April 2006

Guns and Tatu, it sounds like the best city in the world, what else could you ask for? Hope the Vodka is going down smoothly!
21st April 2006

Go on the t.A.T.u
Hey Pat and Cat, St Petes looks AMAZING. Loving your blog thus far. As for t.A.T.u, I can understand why, I still love them and have that new album! Oh love the top "tea rocks"!
21st April 2006

Great commentary on the pictures. Lovin' the architecture but to be honest my favourite photos are the pixie boot lady and Tatu! Sounds so cool so far, glad the Russians are only cranky on the outside. Try and get a close up picture of one with soot on his/her face. That would probably make me narky aswell. Have fun at the Nutcracker, remember the Nutcracker story in the Judy annual, that was a bit creepy. But you have fun girl!
21st April 2006

mmmmm..... the blinis are making me hungry!!!
22nd April 2006

Sounds like your having a time of your lifes already, I'm so jealous!!! Wish I can crash your travals!!! You not missing much at work Catherine, It's all crap!!!, wish I'm where you are now!!! Have fun , enjoy your journeys!!!
22nd April 2006

I'm so jealous
I'm so jealous.. i'm so jealous... i'm so jealous...i'm so jealous.....shall i go on?
23rd April 2006

Comments Award
Hey I think we might have to have an award for the best comments! Any suggestions? And no, Annemarie, I'm not bringing you back a red panda! Can you comment on your own blog? Well I'm going to anyway. Heeheeee.
24th April 2006

Brilliant !
As the title says ! Great blog... keep up the good work even if I am dead jealous ! I'm off to Majorca Saturday - not quite the same league but will give your regards to Co.Clare when I get there in the summer ! All sounds brilliant !!
27th April 2006

That's not Kazan...
Hi! I am sorry, just to escape any misunderstanding - that's not Kazan you put the pic of - that's Salvation-on-Blood Cathedral.
15th June 2006

table cloths and napkins?
was this last minute preparation or were they provided with the train?

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