Another inexpensive plaskart train took me to St Petersburg, a little quicker than I’d have liked. I managed to get to sleep around 2am. We were woken at 4.30am, a good hour before the train arrived. Fortunately the hostel reception was open, so I checked in, found my bed, lay down for a little while and woke up again at 5pm. Fortunately there were more than four hours of daylight left, so I had time to wander down Nevsky Prospekt, possibly Russia’s most famous street. At first I only wanted to find an internet cafe, but it took a journey all the way down and back again (a long way) before I found one almost next-door to the hostel.
The next two days I explored the place a little more thoroughly. Saint Petersburg is much like Moscow in terms of prices (very expensive), fashion (high boots and short skirts for women, ‘sports casual’ for men) and language, but architecturally it’s more classically European than any city I can think of in Europe. It’s only the cyrillic characters and the slightly overblown unspoiled-ness of everything that gives it away. It’s all pretty impressive, particularly the absolutely immense Hermitage museum and art gallery, which I spent most of a day wandering around. All the same, I did feel a little bored there, though mainly because the hostel was of the very upmarket and dull variety, and I really didn’t have the budget to go out anywhere at night.
On the last day I went to see the ‘Peter and Paul Fortress’, and timed it so I would be able to see the firing of the mid-day cannon, which felt like an earthquake, even from 20ft away. Walking back into the centre the wind picked up severely and at one point I found myself sprinting down the road after my hat, which I managed to jump on an instant before it would’ve blown under the wheels of a truck. That’s probably going to be the thing I remember most about the city.
This cathedral seems to suddenly come out at you from nowhere. During the soviet era it was apparently a “museum of atheism”.
One of the many, many canals, and at the end the only Russian-style building I saw there.
…leads to this
Very high pedestrian density on Nevsky Prospekt.
This picture was taken after 9pm, in April.
Inside the Peter & Paul Fortress
View across the river from the above.
View from the other side of the river.