Saint Petersburg: part 1

On Wednesday evening I made my way into St Petersburg and then took the metro for the one stop journey to my hostel. The journey was fairly uneventful except that it was much slower than necessary due to the train spending large parts of the trip travelling very slowly – so in that respect it was like the Trans-Siberian which probably did it’s slowest average speed over the last 250km which it did on the last day.

My hostel was in an excellent location in a nice part of town. It was next door to a branch of Loius Vittion. One of those international brands that I see everywhere except Oxford!

I then went out to my second favourite restaurant – KFC for dinner before returning to the hostel to sleep. This was fine except I was joined in my room by a crazy Russian who seemed to think that even given the signs and my polite requests it was OK to smoke in the room. I suppose you just get used to the western attitude of smoking being banned practically everywhere. It’s even banned outside at Oxford train station which I think is just a little bit harsh.

Anyhow the next day I got up fairly early and headed off to try and do my washing as my hostel didn’t supply a key ingredient – washing powder. Though I shouldn’t complain too much as otherwise it was free. On the way back though I went inside the gothic and dark looking Kazan cathedral which was very graceful and beautiful inside. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos. One thing worth remembering about Othodox churches is although if you are a man you are supposed to uncover your head if you are a woman you’re supposed to cover yours – consistent I know!

So after seeing that I headed back to the hostel to dump the washing powder and breakfast stuff I also picked up before heading out to try and go to a blockade museum describing the 900 day seige of the city by the Germans in WW2 (it was known as Leningrad at the time.). Unfortunately according to the tourist information map it seemed to have closed but then I rounded the corner to see the epic Church of the saviour on the spilt blood. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite 11am when it opened so I contented myself with a look at the outside before heading down the street to the nearby Russian museum. This is a huge collection of Russian art from a more St Petersburg perspective and it was excellent – especially the early icons and the stuff from the St Petersburg academy of art. After seeing this I headed back to my hostel to hang up my wet clothes (as it was free there was no tumble dryer.). Then I headed to the Peter and Paul fortress on the other side of the river for the rest of the afternoon which was OK. I then headed to look at Palace square and the breathtaking Hermitage and General Staff buildings around it.