Sunday, January 24, 2016

St. Petersburg Pt.1

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two days after I got back from Madrid my friend, Katherine, and I made a trip to St. Petersburg. The only city I have ever been to in Russia was Ufa (I never even had a layover in Moscow or St. Petersburg), so I was really excited to experience a different city for a change. There are so many cities in Russia that I want to visit and St. Petersburg was definitely at the top. You just hear so many stories about how amazing it is, and I have to agree, it was REALLY amazing. Honestly, it's worth the hassle of getting a visa to visit. It is probably one of my favorite cities ever (and that's coming from someone who got hypothermia at the Hermitage). It was that great of a city.

Katherine and I woke up at 4:30 that morning and took a taxi to the airport. The flight was not too exciting, but I did see one of my students and we did have a layover in Moscow. That was pretty exciting... When we arrived in St. Petersburg we wanted to get a taxi through Rutaxi, but we couldn't figure out how to change the city, so we ended up just taking a taxi from the airport. DO NOT FOLLOW OUR MISTAKE. If you have a Russian number download Rutaxi onto your smart phone, or figure out another alternative. We took the taxi to our hostel, Apple Hostel. It was a nice hostel, with a good English-speaking staff, in a great location, but we had a really creepy roommate who I will talk about later.

Since we arrived around 12 pm we decided to decided to just walk around, and not really plan the day. St. Petersburg is SO cold. Everyone tells me that it's because it's so humid that it makes it feel so much colder. It honestly was the coldest I've ever been in my life. I suggest if you go in the winter that you bring good, warm boots, a decent winter coat, and a scarf and hat. Seriously though, spend the extra money on lined boots and wear double socks. Boots without any lining will not cover it. Although most things were cheaper and there wasn't a lot of tourists I wouldn't suggest visiting in the middle of winter. ;)

We first walked to the Church of our Savior on Spilt Blood because it was about a four minute walk from our hostel. This is definitely one of the iconic spots in Russia that you have to see. We didn't pay for the tour inside but it was just worth the look from the outside. Plus, when you are on Nevsky Prospekt you can see it and it's just so magnificent seeing it in the distance.

Afterwards, we walked a little bit and went to Kazan Cathedral. We were really cold so we ended up going to Coffeeshop Company to warm up a little bit. The coffeeshop was right next to the Cathedral so it was a convenient place to stop. We then went back to Kazan Cathedral to walk around inside. It was really busy because it was the Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve (their Christmas is January 7) so there were many people praying inside and lighting candles. I tried to get some pictures of the Christmas tree, but since the sun was setting behind the building everything just looked black.
When we were finished walking around we walked down Nevsky Prospekt to where the Alexandrinsky Theatre was because we thought there might be something to see, but there wasn't. We decided to go warm up again because our feet were getting cold and went inside a giant bookstore called Singer Home. It was really busy but it was good to look around and warm up. They had a large assortment of Russian books and English books and the books are slightly cheaper than ones you'll find in the USA.

Around 7pm we decided we were hungry and wanted to get something to eat. Since we are both indecisive and can't ever decide what we want every time we wanted to eat we told each other we would walk down Nevsky Prospekt until we saw something that looked good. That night it was Il Patio. We went in because sushi sounded good but we ended up getting soup, pizza, and mulled wine. The pizza was alright, but the soup and mulled wine were fantastic! We were both really tired from waking up early and traveling that we went back to the hostel early. We stopped and picked up a few groceries then relaxed for the rest of the night.

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