I’ve found myself behind in my blog writing. Partly because we have done so much every day I have come home extremely tired and lacking the energy to write. (EDIT: As I have briefly skim read this blog I have noticed many mistakes. I seem to be replacing words with incorrect words. I apologise for the partial incoherence. I will fix it when I’m less on the verge of sleep). The internet here is also slow and uploading photos is time consuming and frustrating. However, the main reason I haven’t written a blog yet about Saint Petersburg is I honestly don’t know where to start or how to put into words the magnificence of this city. So I suppose I will just try to start from the beginning and I will attempt to convey the awe I feel.
The trip to Saint Petersburg was not without it’s adventures. I discovered a fish and meat deli inside the airport near our gate. I’m sure for Russians this didn’t seem unusual and perhaps some people thought it odd that I was taking photos, but I just couldn’t believe you could buy stacks of meat and raw fish within an airport! It truly fascinated me.
When we landed in Saint Petersburg I was happy that I had managed to put my grief to the side. It was still there but I am so glad that I could still feel overwhelming feelings of excitement and anticipation. Luckily not even a young creepy taxi guy could take away the excitement from me. When we left the airport he simply would not leave me alone. I was waiting near Stas while he went to the atm when a taxi driver came near me and asked if I needed a taxi. I said “niet, niet, niet, no, no, no.” I shook my head. He continued to ask me. I again kept saying no in English and Russian. He then proceeded to tell me that he was strong and could carry my bags. Well I assume he was saying this, as I don’t speak Russian, but sleezy smiles and pointing to his flexed muscle and then my bag was hard to missinterpret. After saying no for what felt like the 50th time he left me alone. Stas finished with the atm and we went to look for our prearranged taxi driver, which I soon spotted. He was a lovely man, he wheeled our two biggest bags which left Stas and I with just the two little carry on bags. We followed him hastily to towards the car park. THEN the creepy taxi driver returned saw me hastily walking next to my husband following a prearranged taxi driver and tried to cut me off to ask if I (by the way I don’t mean Stas and I. I mean just me) needed a taxi. I said “niet” very loudly and pushed passed him.
Once I was safely in the car, with the nice taxi driver and the creepy taxi driver far in the distance, my head didn’t know which way to face. At this point I wished I had a 360 degree head swivel, like the heads you see at carnival games. I wanted to see EVERYTHING! I will admit the first few minutes of the car ride were not interesting. The buildings were boring and plain but quite suddenly we landed amongst enormous and truly magnificent buildings. Stunning pillars held some of the buildings up. Others were just laced with decorative sculptures. I just cannot put into words the beauty of the buildings, statues and monuments. The detail on everything is incredible.
We wound our way through the city. Our lovely taxi driver told us little bits of information about the city and hints for our trip. If you know me well you would know that I am an extremely detailed planner and spend hours researching everything. I’m half tempted to upload the spreadsheet I made with hours of gather and compressed information and my colour coordinated map, just so everyone knows how good of a planner I am. Or I suppose how much of a neurotic planner I am, depending on how you look at it. Anyway I found an incredible airbnb for less than $50 a night in the historic heart of Saint Petersburg. The historic heart is made up entirely of pre-revolutionary buildings and situated between channels of water. Similar to Venice in Italy. The airbnb itself is really big, has everything we need AND is only one block away from the amazing Winter Palace. I’m not kidding; you can see the winter palace from our street. It’s incredibly close to the famous Church on the Spilled Blood and all the other amazing things the historic heart of Saint Petersburg has to offer.
When we first arrived at our airbnb we were early. So we went for a 30 minute walk around the neighbourhood while our host finished cleaning the apartment. I fell in love with the city and it’s beauty. The people here are so friendly as well. A lady on the street greeted us and chatted away. She spoke to me with a huge smile on her face. Stas told her I didn’t speak russian, to which she responded “It doesn’t matter a welcoming smile and voice is all that is needed.” The water channels create such a stunning scene and highlight the grand and old buildings around it. Bridges exist so people can cross the channels. Boats floated past and the people gathered in them looked very relaxed.
We walked to the Winter Palace and I was immediately stunned by its incredibly splendor. I kept telling Stas that I truly felt that I was born to live in a palace, perhaps I will get my own palace in heaven one day. There were also horses with cinderella style carriages. I need to ride one of those at some point!
We headed back to our airbnb but only for a little while. We soon made our way to the Church on the Spilled Blood. Unfortunately the very top of it was being renovated, but it was still fantastic to see. Both the inside and the outside are filled with an incredible amount of detail! The pictures on the walls were actually mosaics made from tiny stones the size of my finger nail. The main alter was stunning. The gold was dazzling and so many gems sparkled in the light. The door on the alter was the most beautiful and detailed part in my opinion. We also saw the shrine which was made over the spot where Alexander the Second was mortally wounded.
Outside the church their were beautiful paintings and the artists hard at work. I very much want to purchase one of the paintings, perhaps I will before we leave. There was even a man playing music from wine glasses.
After this pleasant experience we had dinner at “Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant.” After a week of eating only Russian food I was dying to eat something that tasted normal. Not that I didn’t LOVE the food I had been eating. However, any fellow traveller would know that no matter how much you are enjoying the local cuisine their comes a point when you just want to eat something familiar. Unfortunately the food at the restaurant did not taste normal. The pizza I got tasted like what could only be described as Russian pizza. Imagine Russian tasting food then combine that with a normal pizza. The only thing is, it was supposed to be a normal pizza with pizza sauce, cheese, olives and beef. I suppose that makes sense considering I’m in Russia, and it probably serves me right for trying to order Australian tasting Italian Pizza in Russia.
Oh one last thing I want to add. We have visted a couple of supermarkets. They are all underneath beautiful old buildings you see in the street and they are like underground labyrinths. It truly is like a supermarket maze. They also aren’t very big rooms and the supermarkets in general aren’t like big supermarkets we have back home. Still we located everything we needed and it was like a free maze and hide and seek activity to find our way throughout the store and find all the items we needed.
Until I am not exploring or sleeping, goodbye.