Tuesday, June 10, 2008

St. Petersburg

Russia's northern capital greeted us with sunny skies early on Thursday morning. We had a fairly long walk to the hostel so that was our first stroke of luck! We checked in and decided to grab showers before going sightseeing. I bumped into an American professor who gave us a great tip; the Hermitage has free entry every first Thursday of the month. So we changed our plans and headed straight there! Stroke of luck number two!.

We spent a good four or five hours immersing ourselves in the Hermitage's extensive collection of fine arts, with no less that 2 whole rooms of Picassos alone it was no wonder the place was full of tour groups being led round in all major European languages. We just kept our ears open and enjoyed being able to stop when we wanted.

As we were wandering round we saw a concert stage being set up in the square outside, with the help of a free guide we deduced it was a Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) gig the following night. It turned out that the concert was a free gift to the city so we decided we'd attend!

The next morning we badly needed to catch up on washing our clothes, we'd heard about a cafe-bar cum laundrette which sounded like a good concept. As there were no closer places we trekked across the city with our dirty laundry to check it out. The place itself wasn't up to much, just a run down bar with student types hanging about. After 3 hours of sitting around sipping coffees and beers our washing was finally clean and we scooted back to the hostel for a quick change before heading back to the Hermitage for the concert.

As it had been advertised as starting at 7pm we were there early to get a good spot, as it turned out the band didn't come on till well after 9pm. The show was superb, made even sweeter by being free. I was given a can of what i think was Vodka-Redbull type drink by a lad in front of us in the queue, as he couldn't manage the four cans he'd brought with him (no alcohol was allowed inside the perimeter). So I was buzzing for the first hour or two, but after nearly five hours standing in the same spot my back was starting to give me grief! The band saved the crowd pleasers for the encore; 'Brick in the Wall' and 'Comfortably Numb' being the last two songs of the evening.

The crowds leaving took over the streets leaving the square and we were caught up in it all. Good fun though. Had to stop for food on the way back as we'd not managed to get anything beforehand! Didn't manage to get any photos though as it was chucking it down by then.

Saturday, we went to visit the Dostoevsky museum, which to be frank was a bit of a let down. I'm reading 'The Idiot' at the moment and I was hoping for more insight into the writer, unfortunately most of the exhibits were in Russian. There was a good food market across the street which we enjoyed as the vendors let us try all sorts!

We spent the afternoon strolling round the Summer Gardens and the Mars field nextdoor as the weather was good again although the wind had changed direction and was now bitterly cold! We warmed up in a Blini restaurant for dinner.

This morning we got up late as it's a moving day, checked out the Peter and Paul fortress, then wandered round the Tavrichesky gardens soaking up the sun on park benches and enjoying a tasty ice-cream, our reward for so much walking the last couple of days. St. Petersburg public transport isn't the easiest we've come across.

Tonight we're catching the train to Riga doubt we'll sleep well as we cross the Russian/Latvian border some time early in the morning...

1 comment:

David Webster said...

Glad its going OK, I arrived home on Thursday no problems, met John in Warsaw and again in Cologne, went through the wheel changing exercise in Belarus, this time in the engine shed in the day time.
I hope the rest of your trip goes well, I will try and read, if you ever settle back up on Merseyside give us a call.


David Wbster from Carriage 10 room 2