St. Petersburg was awesome! I just got back from four days over there, and I am very satisfied with what I saw.
On Thursday I woke up around 6am to make the 8am train to St. Petersburg. The train ride was about 3 hours long, so it was not bad at all. Once we arrived, we took a bus to our hotel, which was right on Nevsky Prospect, which is the main street where many nice things are. After that we went to the Saviour on the Blood cathedral, which is extremely colorful on the outside and very fancy on the inside. After that we went…. actually, I don’t remember, so I’ll just go to the next day.
Friday was probably the longest day. I think we went to St. Isaac cathedral in the morning. Its dome is 100m high, which is pretty incredible when you are standing right under it. There were some statues that stood about 12m tall, but since they were at the top of the dome, they seemed minuscule. We got to climb on top of the cathedral and got some pretty cool views and pictures (Which I will probably post when I get back to Miami.) We then went to the Hermitage, which I think is one of the largest museums in the world. The Hermitage used to be the winter palace for the Tsars. If I remember correctly, the museum has around 3.5 million pieces of art, but it only displays like 3% of that at a time, it is incredible. We spent a long time in there, walking from exhibit to exhibit, seeing the different rooms in the palace, etc… After the Hermitage, we had lunch, went back to the hotel, and took a long nap. We then went to see the ballet “Swans Lake”. I had never seen a ballet in my life, and I did not really enjoy the first two acts because I had no idea what was going on. The music was amazing though, there were many musicians and the conductor playing right in front of the theater, just like it used to be in old plays. After the second act, a friend let me read the program and I understood the story, once I did, I really enjoyed the rest of it.
The ballet ended around 10:30pm and five of us decided to go somewhere before we headed back. A friend wanted to go to this pub (I forget the name of it.) which took us a long time to find, even though it was right in front of us. We ordered some drinks (and a club sandwich for myself) and talked for a while. There was three Russian girls in the table next to us, and they kept looking at one of the guys in our table, eventually they threw a napkin with stuff written on it, so we went over to their table. One of them spoke English very well, another spoke very little, and the third one didn’t speak any at all. We had a lot of fun speaking in English and Russian and around 3am decided to go somewhere. We walked around in circles for a while until we got to a night club, since it was 3:30am and half of the people didn’t want to go in, we headed back towards our hotel. Around 4am I was tired and decided to call it a night and go to sleep, everyone else went to McDonalds.
The next morning I woke up at 7:55am, I don’t know why I did; my internal clock needs some serious repairs. Around 10am we headed for the docks and got in a really futuristic looking boat. It was one of those hydrofoils that glide above the water when it is going fast. This took us to the Peterhoff, or Summer palace. This palace has hundreds of beautiful fountains, some that shoot over 20m high, but the most amazing thing is that they are purely gravity powered. There are no water pumps anywhere, I was really happy to see such an interesting thing that was built over a hundred years ago. We walked around the palace and parks for a while and later headed back. We got on the wrong boat and ended up somewhere different than where we had left earlier. Fortunately, there was a good restaurant nearby and we got some great Russian food. We then took the subway back to our area. The subway was probably the cleanest part of the city. There was not a single graffiti on the wall, no trash on the floor, there are statues and fancy lamps on the stations, it was very cool. We then took another long nap and went to a Mexican restaurant. Another unexpected thing, this Mexican restaurant was better than any Mexican restaurants I have been to in the USA! There was live music and even a couple that danced as a show. The food was great, the drinks were great, and the atmosphere was awesome. In the table next to us was a group of about 20 Russian men and women. I’m not sure who they were, but they wore very nice (expensive) clothes and had several bodyguards outside of the restaurant. They seemed to have a lot of fun taking pictures of themselves wearing sombreros.
Around midnight, there was a fountain/light/laser show in the middle of the river. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. There was very loud music playing, and massive fountains lit with laser and colored lights playing along with it.
Today (Sunday) we walked around the city just for fun. We went to a small market, a bookstore, a military antique store (which was way too expensive), rode the subway, and headed back to the hotel. Around 4:30 we got on a bus to the train station, got on the train, and headed back to Novgorod.
I wish I could write more, but I’m tired and I have school tomorrow, so that’s it for today.