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Published: November 14th 2014
We gathered at 7am to have breakfast in order to catch a taxi to the Prague Airport at 7.30. The driver was on time and for the sum of about $30, he took us to the airport. Passing through customs and security for Russia, you are scanned twice, your passport is looked at thoroughly, Tim was asked a few questions because of his previous visits, your photo is taken and then .......welcome!
The flight was quite rough as we were on a small airbus and hit a lot of turbulence. This aircraft had the least leg room I've ever experienced and my knees touched the seat in front. The food was a drink and a chicken roll wrapped in cling wrap. As we touched down, there was a round of applause for the crew, which almost smells of surprise or a lack of confidence; I thought the minimum requirement was to land safely.
As soon as we left the aircraft we noticed the drop in temperature but I had anticipated this when I noticed my window ice over as we approached St Petersburg. After passing through their border control, we picked up our luggage, were sniffed by a few
Typical Russian beech forest in early winter.
dogs, and went in search of a taxi. In Russia, there are taxis and there are 'taxis'. We prepaid at the taxi booking desk and they direct you to your allocated taxi. Many unofficial taxi operators approached us as we left the terminal so I understand the reason for this system. Real taxi drivers do not leave their car. The set price was also good as you knew the deal and there could be no rip offs.
It cost about $22 for a 40minute drive to our hotel and I actually felt sorry for the driver. This ride would cost at least double that at home.
Our hotel, Petro Palace, is actually a former palace and was located right in the centre of St Petersburg. They gave us an upgrade to executive suites, so we were treated to the slippers, dressing gowns, complimentary fruit and a decent view. What a bonus! It even had an ironing board and iron but I haven't worn ironed clothes for seven weeks and I wasn't going to start now.
We settled in and Tim suggested we go for a short walk which means, in Tim Talk, we will be gone for
hours. We arrived back at 9pm, so 5hrs, including dinner, was not a short walk.The first stop was the Bronze Horseman, probably the most well known and important statue in St Petersburg, dedicated to Peter the First. Following the Neva River past the maritime district,we saw the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. This is an amazing building that once housed the Royal Family and the government prior to the Revolution, and it is indeed where the Revolution started, with the arrest of the sitting government of the day. It faces the Palace Square and the General Staff buildings which housed the Russian military hierarchy at the time.
It was really starting to cool down so a brisk walk up Voznesenskiy Prospect, the main road through town, past canals, cafés and many surly Russians, saw us sitting in the Soviet Cafe for dinner. Tim warned me about the lamb being mutton thing but I ordered it anyway. It was not chewable. The rest of the meals were just Ok and this place was recommended in a guide. It filled our stomachs so I suppose it served its purpose. We stopped for a coffee on the way back to our Palace
The museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great
and settled in for the night.
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