To Russia with love
Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
143Trip End Nov 15, 2007
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We were met on the train platform by a nice Fin, Aki Snabb, cute name, for our 5 hour trip to St Petersburg with a delay for passport control in between. Passports were stamped by Finnish Immigration on the train before the border. Then Russian Immigration collected them at the border, took them away for half an hour and returned them with the appropriate stamp. They actually changed engines at the border of Finland and Russia
We had to buy a visa for Russia when we bought the train tickets
The trip went smoothly enough with the occasional coffee from the dining car. I had a little 2 year old girl, Alexandra, sitting next to me who kept me entertained. Her daddy spoke good English, but between Alexandra and I it was just drawing and cutting pictures. I don't think she noticed I wasn't Russian.
Peter the Great commenced the construction of the fortress named Sankt Pieter-Burgh in 1703 on the banks of the Neva River to protect the area from being taken back by Sweden. The citadel built on the site was called the Peter and Paul Fortress after the apostles. Saint Petersburg has a checkered history of invasions, this is why it was decided not to make St Petersburg the capital of Russia, as was planned.
I have to start somewhere with my description of Russia and I might as well start with the traffic at 5pm on a Friday as this hit me straight away. The traffic lights are just a guide; red does not necessarily mean stop, not everyone and not right away anyway
It was the longest day of the year, 18 hours and 56 minutes on 23rd of June the day we arrived and also a day of celebration as all the tertiary students celebrated their graduation that night, so the lift-up bridges of St Petersburg remained closed the whole night (one of only 2 nights this happens). Normally the bridges open for river traffic between 2 and 5am, so you have to make sure you're on the right side by 2am. There are 364 bridges in St Petersburg, almost one for every day of the year. It's a beautiful city and one can't help but be impressed with the generous roadways and footpaths, it seems very well laid out for traffic, and with a population of 4.6million people in St Petersburg traffic is a big consideration.