Saint Petersburg: City Treasures

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Jul 02, 2009

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Flag of Russia  , Sankt-Peterburg,
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today we find out if the lack of interesting things found on our arrival is just cos we were looking in the wrong place - partly we were. We met Olga at the hotel reception and proceeded to bus & walk around the main sights of the city. Had a different driver too, Igor, and he was much less of a maniac than the guy who picked us up from the train!

Since St Petersburg is built on a number of islands, a lot of the sights are a fair walk between each other, and that's why last night we only really came across the Church of Spilled Blood which was our first stop.

The Cathedral of St Peter & Paul Fortress is quite nice, and Olga was really good as a guide, she was quite friendly, and had plenty of information to share, not surprising as she grew up here.

For the arvo we went to the Hermitage museum, part of it is in the Winter Palace, so there are a number of spectacular rooms inside. Was surprised at how much original art from various painters and sculptors is in there, and we saw plenty of stuff made from semi-precious stones such as rhodonite.

We got our driver to drop us off in front of St Issak's cathedral, as earlier we'd heard that was where the best views of the city were - there aren't any buildings in the city centre that are above about four stories. Problem was we rocked up right on 5pm, and although the walk to the top was open for another hour, they stop selling tickets to it at 5pm. Stupid old bag at the ticket counter was just slammed the plastic window shut saying "closed".

But they weren't closed... no - what actually happens is they change the ticket booths and double the price, cos after 6pm you'd see the lights of St Petersburg... Yeah right... maybe in winter, the sun doesn't set until 11pm here - rip off merchants.

Went for a walk instead to get some good photos of the sights that we'd only driven past in the morning and not stopped at, by which time we thought - stuff it, may as well go up. So yes, their rip-off worked... but only long enough for me to tell you that if you're ever here presented with the same situation - go back another day before 5pm, it's really not that spectacular.

One thing that has been really cool while being in Europe is that all the street signs (eg. no parking, keep right, etc) I recognise from my Lego as a kid :-)

Had some traditional Russian food in Siberian dumplings from a place that was really close to the waterfront, we were the only people in there... must be the crisis - Olga referred to 'because of the crisis' a couple of times in reference to why some things weren't there (eg. the big fountain on the river Neva in front of the fortress had been taken away). It took a while to register that she meant the global financial crisis and not some political or local crisis!!

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