Saint Petersburg Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
Got up bright and early at 5.30amâŠ..not fun!!! Decided to flag the taxi idea totally and walk over to the new town and catch a tram, still loads of snow but not as blustery as the day before.
Managed to find tram stop fairly easily and after a bit of a telling off by the driver for not having the right change and a helpful push from the locals when arriving at the bus station, mission was accomplished. Spent my final Estonian kroons on drinks and snack food, then onto the bus. The seat next to me was spare which was great cause I just curled up and slept until the border.
At the Estonian side a chap came on and took our passports away and got off the bus, he came back an hour later and gave them back, we drove about 500meters then all had to get off and grab our bags to walk through the Russian side, after a bit of pushing and shoving but no drama it was back on the bus and another nap until St Petersburg.
Bus station was rammed and it was only about -2 degrees, I found the metro station and went in to the ticket booth but the lady wouldnât give me a ticket and just hurumphed me out of the cue.
After some deliberation, a wander around the block and a small fear of death instilled I decided to get into a taxi. Of course the only one were unmarkedâŠ.to quote the lonely planet âavoid taxis lurking around airports, bus stations, railway stations etc, they charge far too much and get uppity when you try and talk them down, trust your instincts if your driver looks creepyâ well thatâs cool huh, so far everyone I had met looked pretty creepy and I had little to no choice about getting in, in the most undesirable place possible on my own with only half an hour until the group meeting startedâŠoh wait and it was getting dark. In I go.
With only a small fight I still got ripped on the fare but hey I got to my totally unmarked, down a back alley way, up 3 floors hostel pretty much unscathed. Checked in, dumped my bag in my room, met my room mate Helen who I would be sharing a double bed with and went downstairs to meet our local honcho.
His name was Sasha and the rest of the group are Aussie Helen, Aussie married Melleah and Brett, Aussie Scott, Aussie Blair, English couple Sara and Misha and English Tom. After a chicken filled Russian pancake (blini) and our joining forms completed we were off for a walk. First stop a second hand soviet book shopâŠ.odd. Second stop a walk through the square by Saint Isaacâs cathedralâŠ..beautiful but dark. Third stop the smallest smokiest bar in RussiaâŠnovel. Then off for a trip on the metro, which Is huge and beautiful, I decided that was good enough reason to take a picture which was promptly followed by a very loud and angry announcement in Russian and my guide freaking out and telling me to delete the picture before I was arrested, good start, note to self now photos allowed in the metro system. So off we hop and after 15minutes or so we get the idea our guide may be a wee bit lost because of the amount of people he was asking for directions. Turns out he was so gave up finding the traditional vodka bar, went to a supermarket bought a bottle and took us to a cafĂ© to drink it. It was pretty fun in the end and got to try pickled herring which was pretty tasty with the âRussian standardâ vodka. Off we went again, this time to a shisha bar, a couple of the girls and myself decided we were done so wandered home. Some where along the way unfortunately I must have experienced my first pick pocketing because I arrived with no cell phone. Bummer. It was a big day!!
Down for breakkie of buckwheat and a fried egg and then an excessive wait for our honcho to turn up. Got organised then it was off for a morning at the hermitage. 300 rouble entry (only about 6 pounds) and it was all on.
There really was no stone left untouched by Catherine the great in her 3 million item museum!!! By far the most amazing building I have ever seen and it was full of Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, you name it they were here, whole rooms made of malachite stone, amazing sculpture, tapestries the lot. Spent a couple of hours in there and then the concentration span was well and truly spanned.
Had a quick cheese Sammie the off to the church of the saviour on spilled blood, soooo breath taking, you may have seen pics of it, bright bright colours and the towers with what look like spinning tops on them, amazing. Had a look through at the intricate mosaics and then past the eternal flame onto the Peter and Paul fortress. Some of the guys went into another church here but I went magnet shopping for a bit instead.
We were all getting pretty wrecked by this stage and after another 15 mins or so of walking our guide decided it would be fun to get a local bus down Nevsky Prospekt (the main street) in rush hourâŠ.what a tool! 7 of us had to push and shove our way on with all the highly unhappy locals for a too long very uncomfortable ride on a minibus then push our way off againâŠwow did they hate us!!
On our way back to the hotel we passed the Vaganova school of choreography which was very cool 22m wide, 22m high and 220m long, it was where Pavlova learnt her art (the ballerina not the dessert) finally back to the hotel a quick sit down and a decision by us all we just wanted to go out for a nice dinner and a drink or two not the raging night our honcho had planned, he was not so receptive but we managed to get some middle ground and find a decent place to eat and then skip back home so all were happy.
A bit of a sleep in today as we didnât have to check out until noon and our train didnât leave until midnight. Had breakfast and packed up then told our honcho we all wanted to spend the day doing our own things as we all had different things we wanted to see, again he was not so happy but hey that is how this trip is supposed to happen. 6 of us decided we wanted to see similar things so headed off on our way. Went back to Saint Isaacâs to take some day pics and then to the vodka museum. It was sooooooooo cool. 300 roubles and we got to look around the museum and have a tasting, it was all in Russian but I gave the guys a brief run down on the process and into the tasting we go. We got a plain vodka, a rye flavoured vodka and a cedar flavoured vodka all by green mark and a pickle, herring on rye and lard and mustard on rye as little eats for in between shots. It really was great and the staff were all lovely.
Left there to the famous Mariinsky Theatre where all the ballet goings on are, I desperately wanted to see a ballet and had been asking my honcho to try and find out about it but he seemed to think I was just a bit mad for wanting to go in the first place and ignored me. There was no ballet on that night and we were not allowed to look inside but they had some cool little models of it we could look at.
Lunch of chicken soup in a wee cafĂ© then we hopped on the metro and went out to the monument to the heroic defenders of Leningrad, it followed suit by being a rather epic structure. Then back into town for a quick postcard shop before meeting everyone for dinner. Cute little place, I had my first borsht (beetroot soup) yum!!!!
Honcho then decided we must now go to a bar so after refusal to one and then seeing the state of the next one a few of us decided to just hang outside for a minute and discuss our options, we decided on a supermarket/internet cafĂ© game plan and were about to go in and tell honcho when he came screaming out and had a go at us for leaving himâŠ..tool I say once more. We sorted it and did said plan and met him back at the hostel for our transfer later on. Went to the train station and hopped on our overnight train to Moscow.
It was a pretty cushy train and as there were only three of us in our cabin we had a lovely Russian lady join us. We were all pretty tired though so slept pretty quickly.