From Russia with Love: #4 Strolling about in St Petersburg

I spent a week in Russia and I fell in love with the country and its people. They remind me of the misunderstood big kid in class and I want to take my time sharing about my experience traveling there solo. I will be posting up a few short write ups about specific incidences and my thoughts about them and my understanding of the culture and the people. Post #4: Strolling about in St Petersburg.

I took the sleeper train from Moscow to St Petersburg and it was different from the previous one I had taken from Prague to Poland. I had reserved a bed in a wagon (as it’s called in Russia) filled with at least 50 other people. Thank you ear plug inventors. I’m debating if I should get an eye mask too, but I don’t want to look like a posh yuppity yup, if you know what I mean.

I arrived way too early and sat in the station for a couple of hours typing up a few posts while waiting for the sun to rise. I’ve become really good at finding places that will allow you to just sit there for hours having only ordered a cup of coffee. When it was time to move my butt, I headed for Apple Hostel, where I would spend my next 5 days. This was the first time in a long time that I had spent more than two and a half days in one place and it was such a treat to be able to take my time. I walked through countless parks on my first day out, enjoyed getting lost again, went into restaurants without prior research, it was great.

I enjoyed eating out as well because it was so much more affordable compared to Moscow. I had dumplings in Pelmenya, borsche and fancy dessert at Taste to Eat, veal with rice and more cake at the Market Place, and burgers and ice cream at Burger King, beef straganoff and brynzas in Brynza (where the alarm went off the moment we finished lunch) just to name a few. I ate, no I feasted like a queen. It was amazing.

I visited a few cathedrals as well. The two that really stood out to me were Kazan Cathedral and the Saviour on the Spilled Blood (great name). I loved Kazan Cathedral although I’m ashamed to say I didn’t take any pictures of it. In my defence, more than half of it was under renovation so the pictures would have been 70% scaffolding and 30% sky. It struck me how such a modern and urban city like St Petersburg had an Orthodox church right in its heart. The place was busy too. No, it wasn’t filled with tourists, but with locals, old and young. It was such a peaceful place too, completely silent, the sort of silence that feels like you’re being wrapped in a warm blanket. Not too far away, the cathedral called the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, was definitely a tourist attraction. I took pictures of this one because it was so beautiful but didn’t go in because I had to pay (I’d rather eat than look at the interiors of cathedrals, priorities, am I right?)

The one cathedral I did pay to go in was the first ever cathedral built in Saint Petersburg, the Peter and Paul Cathedral, in the Peter and Paul fortress, where Saint Petersburg was founded. I was, like the other buildings made for kings and queens, dripping in gold.

On my last night there, I decided to take one last stroll around the city, in all the bright lights. The view from the bridges were beautiful.

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I also stumbled across a group of fire breathers and fire throwers and fire tossers. Anything you could possibly do with fire without dying, they did. I told myself  I’d stay for 15 minutes and ended up staying for over an hour. I love watching performers who have fun performing. It was a very supportive community too, the fire people. It was a great end to my stay there.

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