View from the doorstep of the Nord Hostel
With close to 10 hours sleep under my belt, I decided to head to the hermitage. It was closed however. So I decided to walk around the city and take photos. Okay, I'm quite impulsive at times. I don't always think things through before I act. So being the eager beaver I was, I walked out the door of the hostel dressed like I would normally in London. I knew it was cold. Maybe slightly colder than in London or so I thought. Lets just say its not a good idea to walk around St Petersburg in winter in the subzero weather without a beanie. I mean I had a scarf and gloves like I normally do, but no beanie on my head. Being the smart kid I am, I did pack a beanie in my backpack. Hell I packed 2 for good measure. But I was not smart enough on the day to actually wear it.
Ummm some church. I'm sure its quite famous, but I can't for the life of me remember its name.
All I could think of when I was walking around was, god I'm cold. Haha.
After a substantial Russian lunch (which was yummy) I proceeded to head to the St Peter & Paul Fortress. I spent a few hours visitng the many sites around the place. Before I knew it was already 4pm and I had to meet my fellow tour buddies in another hostel around town at about 5pm. Here I was in a fortress no where near my hostel, and I had to go back to my hostel via the subway, pick up my belongings and then proceed to find the other hostel. So I did what I always do. Run! I ran like a madman out of the fortress towards the closest subway station. I bet I was quite the sight. Arms pumping, legs spinning and chest heaving. Whilst everyone was walking like they usually do trying not to slip on any ice or get too much snow on their boots/shoes.
Frozen river and the Hermitage
Before I even stepped off the subway to return to the Nord Hostel, I already knew I was going to be late. But being the soldier I am. I pressed on and jogged along the main street of St Petersburg (which I don't remember what its called) all the way to the other hostel. Okay, I'm not the fittest of blokes. In hindsight, i'm amazed at how I managed to do it. It must have been the adreneline running through me, or the fear of them leaving without me. But I must have jogged at least 2 km if not more with a 20kg backpack on my back. I think it helped that I didn't know how far away the other hostel was. If I did I would have caught a bus or the subway or given up. But I just kept saying to myself its only a little bit further.
Anyway I got there eventually, and only ended up being 30 mins late.
Beautiful setting sun casting its magic on the snow scape.
It was highly embarassing walking into the room where my new tour buddies were. Apparently they were quite worried about me as they assumed I got into trouble or that I dropped out. Lucky I got there when I did, as I believe they were about to leave to head out for dinner. Anyway it turns out the whole tour consists of me and 3 other girls. That was it. It was only 4 people not including the local guides we would have on the way. This was a much smaller group than I anticipated. But I guess thats what you get when you travel in Winter. I believe the more popular Trans-Siberian route is actually from China to Russia and not from Russia to China.
We walked around and had dinner and sweets. We ended up at a hot chocolate place somewhere. I have no idea where.
As at this point I'm not doing any of the planning anymore and I've got the group dynamic and tour guide/leader showing us their city. So I just go along with the flow. I forgot to mention that we get a new guide for every city we go to. It's pretty much a student who shows us their hometown. But its really flexible. We can tell them what we want to do, and where we want to go.
After the hot chocolate, which was amazing (I've actually never had a hot chocolate which uses real melted chocolate before), the group wanted to head back to the hostel and call it a night. But I wasn't keen on that, so I went to meet someone from my previous hostel for a bit of a night cap. I invited the girls from the tour along. But they declined. More drinks for me I guess.
I don't know why there is a bunny carved ontop of that pillar.
Anyway I caught up with the guy from last night (from my hostel) and he told me about the amazing night he had. Apparently after I left he went out to another party with the Russians we were talking to at the bar from last night. Somehow he ended up at someones house and stayed up all night partying and singing and everything. I was gutted that I missed that because I was tired from the lack of sleep the night before, and I was freezing my tits off. Apparently the Russians aren't as reserved as I initally thought them to be. Before I knew it it was getting late again, so it was time to head back to my hostel. Energy needed to be saved for tomorrow. My first day out with the kids. But as nights out drinking with me usually end, we somehow end up at a kebab place on route to my hostel. And let me say, the Russians know how to make a kebab. Being the gentleman I am, I also remember walking a lady friend of the guy from my previous hostel back to her place. Or close enough. Being so cold late at night one can not afford to deviate too much from their route home so I got her to the point our paths part and bid adieu before setting a pace that would have earnt me at least a bronze in speed walking back to my new hostel.