The Midnight Sun & other troubles

Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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Sunny nights

It is 3 in the morning, and it is bright and SUNNY here in Northern Russia

I'm dying to sleep, but....arrrgggggh! The manager of the hotel has obviously conspired with nature herself - the Earth and the Sun - to make certain that I get no sleep! Either that, or my jet-lagged brain is just starting to hallucinate a bit. No... in fact, I'm fairly certain of the conspiracy....

Entering my third day with no sleep, I laid in bed trying to avoid the sun's rays. Despite being 3 o'clock in the morning, the sun still shined defiantly through the room's cheap curtains. Yes, the sun. At 3 in the morning???

Of course! The "White Nights" of St. Petersburg! Located so far north (around 60° N latitude) , that during the Summer Solstice the sun never sets. People will picnic at the beach, go boating etc, literally all night long. This time of year, it never gets dark here. By contrast, during winter, they rarely see the sun's warm rays. All things considered, I'm quite happy to be visiting during the summer!

Now, I'll just tuck my head under my pillow, and fight the conspirators by actually falling asleep. Any minute now... Yep... any second now...

(a few hours later)

Yeah! I finally got some sleep! Although I'm still not in synch with local time, at least I am not so grouchy!

But in an attempt to "keep it real," I thought I'd share some of the challenges that I have encountered so far.

Language "challenge"

 The language barrier:

Virtually no one I have met so far has spoken any English, and of course, all of the streets signs, commercial signs, etc, are all in written in Russian.
Where am I?
Since that is a Cyrillic language, it is extremely difficult - intimidating in fact - for me to try to decipher.

"Where am I?"
Apparently, the hotel in which I am staying is not on any available map. I have discovered that it is nowhere near the city center, nor is it near any Metro center. Taxis are not available directly from the hotel, and one must take the bus if you'd like to go anywhere independently. At this point, I am not
confident enough yet to feel comfortable in taking a bus - without knowing how to come back. It's not that I don't trust a taxi driver to know how to take me back without over-charging, but... well, actually I DON'T trust them to do that. Maybe after a bit more studying.


The stomach bug:
I was warned that the water in St. Petersburg has very high levels of giardia and other bacteria, and thus it is quite unsafe to drink. So I have attempted to be careful to drink only bottled water. Yet, somehow, the ol' stomach bug has managed to grab hold of me. I expected it, and have the meds to counter the effects, but it'll take a day or two to work, as many of you undoubtedly know from your own travels. So, until then, I need to stay near the um... facilities.

My dirty laundry:
I have not washed my clothes since leaving San Francisco one week ago.

The scenery around my hotel
Thus, some of my favorite outfits are about to grow legs and walk away! I was planning to use a laundry service in London, but at $6 per shirt, I thought it was too costly. However, here they would charge $10 per shirt (using an outside service, since they don't even offer it). So today was hand-washing day in my room.

The Hallway Police:
 My hand-washing apparently alerted the "dezhurnaya" - a sort of babushka hall monitor.
My hotel
I am not really sure of what role they perform, but there is one on every floor. They take your room key when you leave, and the apparently scowl at you if you are up too late or have guests, from what I am told. Mine was not pleased that I was washing clothes in my room, but was not helpful when I asked her how else I could take care of it. She also could not care less that the light bulb was burnt out in my bathroom. (It still is.)

 But these are just "challenges" to overcome. For example, I learn what certain words LOOK like in Cyrillic. The word for restaurant looks a
little bit like "Pectopah." And when given a Russian menu, I recognized something that looks a bit like "6opw" which is borscht - a soup of beets, carrots and kidney beans, with a dollop of sour cream. Quite yummy, actually!

I'm going to chill out today, and hopefully be up and able for an exploration of the city center tomorrow. Now, if I just knew WHERE the city center was, I'd be all set!




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Sunny nights
Sunny nights
Language challenge
Language "challenge"
Where am I?
Where am I?
The scenery around my hotel
The scenery around my hotel
My hotel
My hotel
Sunshine - at night
Sunshine - at night