Ending Our Long Train Journey In Style.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Vesta Hotel St. Petersburg
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Walking Tour - Hermatige

Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Monday, May 9, 2011

One last overnight train took us from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We have loved traversing China, Mongolia and Russia by way of the Tibet Plataeu line, then Trans Mongolian and the TransSiberian Lines. We are a little sad it is over, but looking forward to our next country of Greece and our first plane flight in awhile.

St. Petersburg is a gorgeous city full of cultural treasures. It is visually stunning, with the Neva river and many man made canals wending through the city, giving it a feel of Venice, but in a less cluttered way. Commencing in 1703, Peter the Great employed the best architects (many from Italy) of the time to plan a city from scratch, of beautiful palaces, canals, churches, and government offices.

One thing we did notice immediately is that Russians love to drive fast and hard,treating normal roads like race tracks. It was a bit disconcerting when trying to cross the road!
We found to our delight that our accommodation was right on the most interesting street, of Nevsky Prospekt and walking (long walking!) distance from the central sights. Well, not actually "in" the street - we had to go down a little ally off Nevsky and into a residential complex of slightly shabby high rise flats.  It would have been quite difficult to find had we not had a pickup from the train station. Our delight was soon squashed however, as on arrival at our hotel at 7.00am, after our overnight train, we found we would have to wait until 2.00 pm to be able to check in and have a much needed shower and change of clothes. We knew this would probably be the case but we had been lucky in Moscow to get straight into our room. The receptionist advised us our guide for our walking tour would meet us in the foyer at 10.00 am so we went out to find some breakfast and look around. St. Petersburg, by reputation is expensive, aligning itself more to Europe, but we didn't find it to be overly so. A cooked breakfast proved to be cheaper than could be had in a cafe in Australia.

Our guide arrived at 10.00 and introduced us to Neil from the UK who would be doing the walking tour with us.  Our three hour tour turned into four, as we walked and walked admiring and learning about this amazing city, its heritage buildings and its history. During World War 2  much of St. Petersburg was bombed by the Germans and then later, during the communist era many of the building were left to decay and were used for other purposes. However since the fall of communism an extensive programme of renovations has occurred and the city is now overwhelming gorgeous. 

After the formal tour had finshed, we headed to the Hermitage, arguably the best collection of art and sculptures in the world. It is housed in the Winter Palace, which is worth the entrance fee, just to see the lavish interiors.

The next day, May the 9th, was one of the most important days on the Russian calendar, Victory Day . A public holiday for all, it is the celebration of victory over Germany and the end of World War 2 for Russia.  Everyone was out and about in the street and when I say everyone it was wall to wall people for maybe 3 kilometres back from the city centre. We managed to see most of the veterans parade, a bit like our Anzac Day march. 

Back at our hotel, we packed up ready for an early start to the airport. It is time to leave Russia and move onto Greece.   

Footnote: Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments are UNESCO World Heritage listed. Saint Petersburg also features in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die. 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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