Last known location: London, England

North to St Petersburg

On arrival at Baltiyskiy Station we thought we’d avoid the temptation of a taxi and get the Metro to our hostel.  At the ticket booth we indicated we wanted two tickets to Nevsky Prospekt station. The woman stared at us blankly and said something in Russian we couldn’t understand.  After a couple more vain attempts to communicate we decided to give up; a small queue was forming behind us and it was rush hour, so we opted for the taxi after all! We tried to barter with the taxi driver – another fail! Still, we got him to turn the meter on so hopefully didn’t get too badly ripped off.

Got to the hostel at about 10am, luckily our room was ready so we checked in and dumped our stuff.  We avoided the temptation to go straight to bed after the previous night and just had a much needed hot shower before wrapping up warm and heading out into the city.  God knows how we’ll survive on a train for 6 nights – after just one we were walking around in a daze!

Because it was such a beautiful day we thought a river trip might be the easiest option – nothing too energetic and a good way to see a lot of the main sights.  Everything in the city is on a grand scale, huge buildings on every street, statues, churches etc. We bought our tickets for the cruise and then got some lunch at a little cafe. Russian savoury pancakes all round! We did the boat trip, which lasted 2 hours, and managed not to fall asleep.  We decided afterwards, though, that we wouldn’t be hitting the town, and instead we were back at the hostel and in bed by 9pm!

Woke up at 10am the next day (Friday) feeling much more awake.  That’s what a 13 hour sleep will do for you!  Went straight to the Hermitage at the Winter Palace, which is a 5 minute walk from our hostel, and spent a few hours in there.  It’s such an enormous building, and so grand!  The rooms have all been decorated extravagantly and were strong competition to the art itself.  We managed to have a good look at some British, French and Italian art as well as some Modern European stuff.  We gave up after a while – there’s no way we could have looked at all 3 million pieces!

Thought it was time to head out for a few drinks after our cultural day – although finding somewhere was easier said than done!  Explored Nevsky Prospekt, the main street in the city, and ended up in a strange North African bar; we were the only people there but felt too rude to walk out!  Next we visited a Czech beer bar for a couple of different beers.  Gem nearly got dragged out of the toilet by what we suspect was a pimp who had lost two of his women!  We saw him and them later, walking sheepishly down the road!  Next stop was a very trendy bar where we felt rather out of place in our scruffy clothes – only stayed for a half!

Embarrassingly we then stopped off at Mollie’s Irish Bar – purely because it was mentioned in the guide book as a “place to be”.  Turns out it was pretty packed – all Russians though so we didn’t feel too naughty!  After a few drinks we thought we’d better have some dinner so went to another place recommended in the guide book – Tinkoffs.  They brew their own beer so we tried some of that with our dinner.  It was a really nice place – live music and very busy on a Friday night so a good time was had by all! Got a couple of huge cans of beer to have at the hostel on the way home – a litre of Russian lager at a time probably isn’t a good idea though!

Our last day in St Petersburg was quite a lazy one. Explored the Peter & Paul fort on the other side of the River Neva. A canon is fired there everyday at noon, which we’d completely forgotten about, and we happened to be directly underneath it on the outside of the fort when they let it off! Gem screamed and thought a bomb had gone off! Quite a few people were laughing at us after that which was a bit embarrassing!

On the inside of the fort the resident army troops were doing what seemed like a drum dance routine which was impressive but a bit camp for stern soldiers to be doing! Wandered round the gold topped cathedral there and then headed back across the river for some more Russian food – Solyanka soup and Pelmeni pork dumplings, all with vast amounts of sour cream!

Boarding the next overnight train to Moscow later tonight, leaving just before midnight – lets hope we get a bit more sleep on this one!

  1. Mandy Plews 9 Oct, 2010

    I’m loving this blog, its so nice to see what you guys are up to as and when (or just after!) you’re doing it.
    Keep having fun and stay safe 🙂

  2. Al 10 Oct, 2010

    Sounds exciting! Hope you have better luck with the Moscow subway- are you getting used to the alphabet over there?

  3. John allkins 10 Oct, 2010

    Pictures are really good,and the weather looks fine.
    I think you could get some snow in Moscow.

  4. Jacqui Larkin 11 Oct, 2010

    Fab blog hun – so lovely to be able to keep up with what you’re doing… photos look fab too! Very jealous – we’ve been decorating for 11 hours today and am knackered! xx

  5. Gem 12 Oct, 2010

    Glad you’re all enjoying our ramblings! About to get on the trans-siberian now so won’t be updating for a week or so. Getting very cold in Moscow and it was raining today so pleased to be moving on! Beijing looks pretty sunny at the moment so fingers crossed it’ll stay that way!
    Al – haven’t mastered the alphabet at all but we’ve somehow managed to get by. Just!
    Jax – hope the decorating’s going well. Are you all packed up and moved in yet?
    Dad – think we’re just missing the snow. Very relieved!
    Mand – had a weird dream about Lenin’s nose thanks to your knowledge. Nice!

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