russian word(s) for the day:
"Я был в отпуске" = i was on vacation
so i finally took a week off to spend time in st. petersburg. you'll see new photos added to my flickr account at:
nomadically's flicker photostream
flights were uneventful there and back again. i flew aeroflot with moscow as a layover. the only bad part was spending a few hours in moscow's sheremetyevo airport on the way back to vlad. it was a pretty small domestic terminal, so i ran out of things to do while i waited. by the time i was on my last leg of the flight i was so tired i slept through the whole thing. my girlfriend met me at st pete's airport and it was great to see her after several weeks of being apart.
so here's what we ended up seeing-
- the hermitage - (pic above: left to right: hermitage theatre, old hermitage, small hermitage, and winter place. new hermitage is behind the old hermitage)
- church of the savior on blood - alexander ii was mortally wounded during an assassination
- kazan cathedral
- saint issacs cathedral
- peterhof - many outdoor fountains covering a lush park of paths and trees near the sea.
- tsarskoe selo (the royal villege with alexander pushkin's boyhood school and catherine's palace)
- nevsky prospekt - main avenue of the city with shops, dining and other tourist haunts
- boat tour on the neva and city canals.
- bus tour - during the one rainy day all week. it helped cover a lot of what we didn't have time to see while on foot.
we covered a lot of ground but there was still so much to see. i packed for all kinds of weather but ended up wearing summer clothes most of the time. we only had one rainy day for the week. besides the sightseeing, we also ate out often to try the local cuisine. my girlfriend took me to eat at Штолли, which had delicious meat and dessert pies. everywhere we stopped had great food but that one will always come to mind when i think of st pete.
many of the sites we visited were great to see but i'd say, the hermitage and peterhof were the ones that stand out the most for me. the hermitage consists of several buildings and houses. it had so many exhibits it was impossible to see them all in one day. we spent six hours going through it but could easily have spent a week there. think of the smithsonian's collections in d.c. and you get the idea.
peterhof is outside the city and required a bus ride to get there. sometimes called "peter's court", it's named after peter the great. we spent all day walking through the park, checking out the fountains and underground grotto.
the rest of the week- besides the normal tourist spots we caught the raising of the bridges on the river neva. around 0120am, people can watch from the river as the street bridges raise for the night to let the ships out of the city. the ships return early the next morning with their deliveries and the bridges are lowered again for the rest of the day. they're all lit up so it's easy to see from any distance. if you're driving a car and need to leave the city, it's not so much fun. you're pretty much stuck in the city, unless you want to abandon the car and take a boat across the river.
with so much walking, my shoes gave out and i ended up buying a new pair of sneakers. i found some adidas that ended up being so comfortable i didn't even know my feet were sore until i took them off at the end of the day. i also bought a couple pairs of shoes for my girlfriend because she was even getting a little tired of walking in the shoes she brought.
i picked up some propaganda posters from a local bookstore. i've been looking for them for awhile and found some that covered everything from popular heath, tourism, and cold war slogans. once i get some framed i'll post some pics.
i really hated to leave the city on my last day. i hope to get back again, maybe i'll stop on my way to estonia if i head to tallinn for a visit. when i got back to vlad, i was still in a state of relaxation for several days afterward. one of my best vacation trips ever..