POST 3 – October 25th 2018 – Destinations
My 4 days in St Petersburg
Although a bit short, it was a very enjoyable visit…
After 6 days in Moscow, I was looking forward to visiting another Russian city with even more history : St Petersburg. I took the « Sapsan » high speed train to reach St Petersburg from Moscow and the experience was quite nice onboard (more detailed report will be the subject of my next post). It took about 4 hours from city center to city center, which is equivalent to the duration the same traject by plane will take you all things considered.
As I had some friends living in the area, it was also a great opportunity to visit them, and discover places which only locals know ! Thanks again to Kaleria, Andrew (and their dog Sasha :-)) for showing me around during the week-end !
St Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the great and was for a long time the most important city in what is called nowadays Russia. It was in fact the capital of the Imperial Russia until 1918. History and culture are present at every street corner : From Palaces which were built by the old Tsars, to majestic cathedrals and some of the most famous museums such as the Hermitage, writers and artists houses, to the historical Navy ships and universities, this City is a must to visit for whoever decides to discover Russia.
360° image – The Summer garden of St Petersburg
I actually started my visit by crossing the Neva river and going to Zayachy island, where the city was first founded. The fortress of Peter and Paul can be visited there and gives a nice view on what is considered nowadays as the center of the city
One of the best ways to get a good feeling of the city (especially if you lack some time like it was the case for me) is to participate to a boat tour. The city being built on water, there are numerous canals connected to the Neva river, and later to the Baltic sea. Boat transportation, just like Navy, has long time history in St. Petersburg, and you will see, even nowadays, some officers in uniforms in the streets. Just like Amsterdam or Utrecht, the historical center is organized in a network of canals, and bridges (there are almost 500 in the city) and boat tours are frequently departing from the historical center. Although the speaker will give his explanations in Russian, and those tours are vey popular, you will still be enjoying the views by participating to such a tour.
For the ones who have sleeping issues, night tours are also organized throughout the night, as 12 of the main bridges are still opening every night to let some bigger ships go through. I actually went back to the city one evening at 1am to see that… and the streets were quite full wirth people !
360° image – On the Neva river
The world’s biggest museum (in counts of artwork presented), the Hermitage is located in the heart of St Petersburg. Unfortunately, I did not plan my visit well and the museum was closed when I wanted to visit it, so I went to the, less impressive, Russian museum located nearby. All those places are located in what is called the « golden triangle » and given the great landscape this district offers, it is still frequently used to shoot movies.
360° image – The Hermitage square
Although he is not Russian, I was happy to see a temporary exhibition of Banksy artwork in front of the cathedral
Just like if there was not enough to visit within the city, the region of St Petersburg is home to a lot of other historical places, the two most knows being Peterhof and Pouchkine, located half an hour away from the city, using a local suburban train To be short, the first one was the main residence of the Peter the great and the following tsars, while the second place, Pouchkine was the summer residence. Since I had some friends living in Pouchkine, it was the perfect oppourtunity to visit this lovely town, where I had the opportunity to see two palaces and their gardens, and at the same time, test the drone I bought for this trip (this will be the subject of a separate video)
360° image – Catherine’s palace garden in Pouchkine
Maybe it was because I was already in Russia for a week but I felt St Petersburg to be more accessible and easier to Approach than Moscow. It is definitely more European and communication is also a bit easier than Moscow. I did most of the visit on foot (averaging a good 25000 steps daily…) and used the metro and the tram only on the last day. The metro is convenient and affordable to use, but not as « shiny » than in Moscow (but deeper though…)
I stayed about 4 days in St Petersburg and would have very easily found things to see if I would have stayed 4 more days. Hopefully I will be able to visit this place again.
Stop #2: Saint Petersburg, 4 days
Positives : Every street corner has something to see : A church, a museum, a historical landmark, a palace, a garden… I never felt unsafe in the city, even when walking alone at 1am. Communication in English was a bit easier than Moscow – although still challenging sometimes…
Negatives : Cannot really find some drawbacks besides the tedious process to get a Russian Visa and maybe the difficult communication if you do not speak or understand Russian, or read Cyrillic characters.
SOON TO BE ADDED ON THIS POST: Episode 3 of the video