56 St Petersburg

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
Trip End Aug 28, 2013

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 56

15 June 2013

The conductor opened the door at 6am and asked if I wanted coffee. Yes sure I said, and within minutes I was holding a large glass of strong brew. He even called me by my name; perhaps having a tourist on board was a bit of a novelty. At arrival my driver was waiting for me at the train door, again holding up a sign with my name. He insisted that he wanted to wheel my backpack so, go ahead Boris make my day.

Another General Motors Chevrolet was parked in front of the building and off we went to my private address.

I don't know what the problem is with security or the lack of it,but I had to pass through 4 steel doors before we entered the flat. Again I was greeted by a lady who offers her house as a home- stay. However next time I will request that the host/hostess can speak English or at least some English. This lady speaks only Russian and French so what good does that do. No maps on hand either, so I did not even have a clue of where I was.

At nine o’clock my guide arrived. Alexandra, 24 years of age would take me for a 3 hours walking tour. Well let’s see. The last tour in Moscow, we took the underground to go to the city centre but this time we walked and walked some more which was very enjoyable and interesting and Alexandra just kept on talking. She tried to work out what my interests were, which  was easy because it covers a very wide variety of subjects. She told me a lot about the history of St Petersburg and Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible etc. We spoke about the former USSR and communism. She is a full time guide and wants to travel her self so she also questioned me about were  i had been and the things I had seen.

When we left I took pictures of the front door and street names close by as reference pictures for when I returned. The buildings in St Petersburg are magnificent. Just about every building has some type of decoration on it, ranging from simple to very elaborate
 The local bookstore had a most beautiful shop front and columns inside the shop.  
 We bought a map and as  I needed to study it  we sat down in the bookstore coffee shop. My guide could now explain where we were and where I was staying, how to get there etc plus all the interesting sites to visit. 
  Although we stayed there for 15 minutes none of the waiters came around to ask if we needed anything. Service is not a big thing(yet) 
 We walked to another unique shop where you could get a coffee. It looked like a converted house with very simple furniture almost hippy style. The difference here was that when you enter they ask your name and note what time you enter the shop. You then sit down and order coffee including biscuits etc. Now here it comes: You pay them for the time you are in the shop, about 100 roubles per hour ($3.30) per person but whatever you order is free.  They provide free playing cards if you wish so people stay longer. A very different way of running a business. The three hours walking tour had now turned out into a 5 hour talking tour instead and had been very pleasant and informative. My guide left to take the Metro and I started the long walk back to my home-stay address and was glad I had taken the trouble to take pictures of street names and other reference points as I did have some trouble finding the right street and location,; but in the end I got there.
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