St Petersburg

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Ibis

Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Monday, May 17, 2010

Hello everyone Daniel here,

Well we are further north and the weather has been warm and mostly dry.  It is light until at least 11pm here!

We have been taking it pretty easy since we got here.  The first night we didn't do much at all.  We both felt like having some non-Russian food and found a place nearby that had two for one pizza and beers.  It was a nice change and the beer was actually drinkable.  Russian beer is probably the worst beer I have tried so far!  The local men drink the beer with dried salted fish which I also tried.  The fish is very strong and I have decided that it must be eaten in order to kill the taste of the beer.  I have tried a few beers here and usually buy them in ridiculously large cans/bottles which means if I don't like it on the first sip (which is almost always) I still have almost a litre of it to drink.  I think I will have to switch to Vodka.

It seems English is a little more common here but still rarely spoken.  I am starting to get better at reading the Russian characters which helps occasionally but only really in the metro.  The metro here is not as impressive as the one in Moscow but it is apparently the world’s deepest which I can believe.  Every time you catch the metro it's like taking a journey to the centre of the earth!  The escalators are the longest I have ever seen and it takes ages to get to the top/bottom.  You don't see many people walking up them!  The metro here can get quite crowded especially around 5pm and it seems the Russians are not known for their manners.  Expect to be bashed into and pushed out of the way with nothing but a scowl.  Even the old people push and are pushed in return so I guess it is just the way things are done here.  If Thailand is the land of a thousand smiles then Russia is the land of a thousand scowls.

We caught the metro into the main area of St Petersburg and spent some time wandering around before heading for the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood.  The church is built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881 hence the 'Spilled Blood' reference.  The outside is similar in appearance to St Basils in the Red Square in Moscow with colourful spires that our photos don't do justice too.  The inside was just as colourful as the walls were covered in religious mosaics.  This was another Orthodox church (around 80% of Russians are Orthodox) so there were icons everywhere and a large iconostasis (a wall separating the alter from the church).  The mosaics were amazing even if the photos don't quite show it and it was well worth paying the entrance fee to go inside.

We saw several other churches the most interesting of which was Saint Isaac's Cathedral.  It used to be the largest church in Russia at over 100m tall and has a huge gold dome on top.  During World War 2 the dome was painted gray so as not to attract enemy bombers.  During the soviet era the church was turned into a museum for atheism which must have been a kick in the teeth to the Christians of the day!  The church is quite different in style to the other churches that we have seen in Russia as it is a neoclassical design.  I didn't think the exterior was particularly impressive but once inside you realise how big it really is.  Again there were icons all over the walls and huge amounts of marble and two very impressive lapis lazuli columns.  It only took 40 years to build the church!

There were rain clouds overhead when we got out of the church so we decided to start heading home.  There is quite a distance between metro stations in St Petersburg and the heavens opened up almost as soon as we were out on the street.  We were hit by huge rain drops and drenched in a matter of minutes so we had to wait out the rain before scurrying down to the metro like drowned rats.

Dinner was more sushi which was so-so.  The Russians like to load up their sushi with cream cheese inside so you can barely taste the fish.  The just seem to love those creamy tastes!

I'm looking forward to seeing the hermitage tomorrow; it will make a change from all the churches we have been seeing.

Daniel + Ly

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Mum on

Hi again! the interiors of the churches are fabulous, the colours are so vibrant. I was quite surprised to see all the glorious flowers in bloom in your pictures, they seem to be a contradiction to the 'greyness' of the place.
I see you are off to Budapest next ,will look forward to reading your review.
Enjoy yourselves and take care,
Mum xxxx

Grandad and grandma on

Loved your photos in St. Petersburg. Keep up the good work. Love Grandma

Andre on Soviet Russia.. beers drinks people!

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