Lance has passed the baton to me, so I will tell you a bit about our adventures in St Petersburg.
Привет from St Petersburg
We flew from Warsaw into St Petersburg, went through all the necessary processes to get into a country at an airport, and went straight to the information desk. ‘What is the best way to get to the city?’ So armed with our maps and information we went out and caught the dilapidated public bus to the station and then the train into St Petersburg. Our luggage had to have a bus ticket and a train ticket to come with us. All this was very easy and we were soon coming out of the station onto Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of St Petersburg and the street our hotel was on. All good! So we walked down the street checking out the shops, well one of us did that, looking at the people and being jostled in the crowds. We got to the hotel and Lance took the luggage up to the 4thfloor in the rickety, single person lift while I took the stairs and met the hotel receptionist.
Once we’d settled in we went for a walk (primarily to get beer I think), but we walked along Nevsky Prospekt getting a feel for St Petersburg. By this stage it was the end of the working day, so as well as tourists walking up and down the streets there were also lots of people who had finished work. Driving along the street – an 8 lane highway, 4 in each direction, one of which seemed to be devoted to buses and trolley trams – was peak hour traffic. We were soon to discover that this was the norm.
Then at about 11pm, or just as you are ready to go to bed the motor bikes seem to come out and it sounds like you are on the grand prix track. I should explain our room overlooked Nevsky Prospekt, which was great until we wanted to go to sleep – it was good to sit in the window and watch the world go by 4 storeys below.
The highlights of visiting St Petersburg are of course seeing all the sights you’ve either heard about or seen in movies etc. So, in no particular order places we visited include the Hermitage, part of the amazing Winter Palace, and were awestruck by the amazing show of wealth of the tsars; the amazing multi-domed Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (the blood is that of Alexander II who was assassinated there) – this was truly amazing to see, the whole interior is mosaics; the Isaac Cathedral, with its golden dome; Kazan Cathedral, which is a working cathedral, and while we were there a service was being held, with the most amazing singing by the priest and a four part vocal group – we stayed there for a long time listening to the beautiful music in a most beautiful and serene setting.
A walk along Nevsky Prospekt took us past Admiralty across the river and over to the Peter and Paul Fortress, originally a military base of St Petersburg, became a political prison (inmates included Dostoyevsky, Gorky and Trotsky). The St Peter and Paul Cathedral, magnificently over the top Baroque style, and burial place of Peter the Great and Nicholas II and family. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed walking around the island, and seeing other people enjoying the sunshine. We also enjoyed a boat trip along the canals, but by this time the weather had changed, it was raining and freezing cold, but still a very enjoyable experience.
Other highlights include the vegetarian restaurant we found courtesy of Lonely Planet, the sushi restaurant and the good café that made GOOD coffee, with the really nice waitress, that we kept going back to.
Our last day in St Petersburg will certainly remain the most memorable of our travels. We were awoken by a phone call from Phil to let us know that our beautiful grandson Jack Peter had been born earlier that day. He arrived somewhat early; in fact he wasn’t expected till 2 October. Jack is doing really well, he gets his mum and dad to take photos and videos of him to email to us and we have chatted with him on Skype. He is growing every day and just gets more and more gorgeous each day. He is staying in the hospital a bit longer but is doing really well and working towards going home with his mum and dad, who are both extremely happy and proud of their beautiful boy.
Lance and Barbara