Ra Ra Rasputin

Trip Start May 02, 2006
Trip End Mar 02, 2007

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Flag of Russia  ,
Sunday, May 28, 2006

Well, Russia and more specifically St Petersburg. As I said in the previous entry, actually getting to Russia was something neither Kat nor I expected to achieve in our wildest dreams. To be honest until I crossed that border I didn't think we were going to make it.

Anyways, so we leave Tallin bound for St.P on what we thought was going to be a Eurolines state of the art Mercedes coach (seriouslly, check out their web page) but we're disappointed to see what looked like a 1950's Russian school bus turn up. OK, no problem it's only about 300 hundred kilometers we figure, it'll harden our butts for the longer trips to come. I mean how long can 300 km's take, 6 hours max huh. Nuh-uh, 12 hours later sitting on the biggest heap of crap still on the road we arrived in St.P.

I had the back seat to myself most of the trip until after we crossed the border where a lady and her young son got on and sat down next to me. Everything's fine, we made it into Russia, the kids playing with his toy cars, eating biscuits until he just starts crying with a look of terror on his face. I'm like, 'what the?' and then he just projectile vomits all over the place like Regan from the Exorcist. I'm dry retching, the kids mum's got a plastic bag over his head, I'm still dry retching with my fleece over my head trying to block out the smell. I didn't expect to see anything like that till we got to India. It was a very close call for me. Kat slept right through which was good otherwise she would've been a definite goner. I digress but I do love a good spew story.

So, St. Petersburg. Kat and I had four days to make the most of what was once a truly magnificent city. The Winter Palace, The Hermitage (actually one and the same which confused us), Admiralty House, Church of St Catherine, Peter and Paul Fortress, Nevsky Prospekt and much much more. We tried to take as much in as we could but feel we didn't get to see as much as we ought to have. It's the sort of city where you could spend 2 weeks in and still feel you've not seen enough. The architecture is simply astounding, the Winter Palace must've rivaled the Palias of Versailles in its day and the art collection in the Hermitage is rammed with the great masters including two Michael Angelos.

We were fortunate to be in town during the City parade which was big, very big. They shut Nevsky Prospekt (the main drag) for the day and it seems anyone that can put a float or entrant together can get into the parade. You had everything from the street sweepers driving down in their little sweeper machines, to the cops in their little cop cars, dance clubs with scantily clad dancing girls, to high school students imitating The Beatles on top of a yellow submarine. You name it, it was in there. Simply an awesome spectacle with a crowd there of over a million people, it was like nothing either of us has seen before and unlikely to see again.

So, thoughts on St.P and our experience with the locals ? Well, we have to say the Russians we delt with on a number of occasions were complete wankers. No matter how hard we would try and converse to achieve anything they just couldn't care less. They were rude, they stank and they're serious boozehounds. I know I know, they're fighting an uphill battle with life in general (mafia excepted) and I'm sure the people we delt with were the exception rather than the rule but I can only comment on the people we had to deal with on daily basis. They were enough for us both to vow never to come back to Russia. Glad we did it but we won't be coming back. It seems they make it hard for you to get in and then make it hard for you when you're there.

On St Petersburg's itself. As to what I said above, it is an amazing city to behold if you can imagine it 100-200 years ago. The architecture is stunning and the setting amazing. Now, it's a bit of a dump really. It's dirty, all the lovely sites are falling apart and they still charge an arm and a leg to see them. I'm all for paying money to see sights that truly are something to behold, but to have to pay for something and then realise that half the attraction is closed for renovations once inside is a bit of a piss take in my book. The Hermitage is a classic example, they give you a map that's just a photocopied piece of scribble that some 1st grader put together when he got lost in there and had to make his own way out because the lazy russian caretakers wouldn't get off their chairs to assist.

Anyway, I'm moaning now and I'd hate to end on that note. We have since met travellers that visited St.P and loved it. But and it's a big but, they all visited it in winter when the river is frozen over and there's generally a blanket of snow. Still can't see the attraction but if you're going to go maybe visit in winter. It'll be cold but it could possibly be worth it. Or perhaps just go for the St.P City Day Parade, now that was something to behold.

Next stop Riga.


Nath and Kat.
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