At last, Russia.
The ferry berthed in St. Petersburg on Sunday morning. After a week of travelling across Europe, we had finally arrived at our destination.
The port is a bit out from the city centre, but after a quick negotiation with a bus driver taking an excursion into the city, smoothed by a few hundred roubles, we had hitched a lift.
A great big thank you to Timofey Kunitskiy, attaché to the Consulate General in Edinburgh, who is home on holiday in St. Petersburg, who contacted us before we had even arrived at our B&B. We met up with Timofey and his father Vladimir, who took us in his car on a tour round the city centre.
Initial impressions – unbelievable grandeur, magnificent palaces, colourful and ornate, and vast in size.
In the afternoon we visited the Hermitage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such opulence. Galleries which match anything to be seen at Versailles or in the Vatican, full of magnificent art work. We spent two hours in one part, but in truth you could have spent a week there and only seen half of the collections.
We decided to walk from the Hermitage back to the B&B, getting ourselves a little lost in the process. It’s not easy when you can’t read the street signs. Not only are they in a different language, but Russian is written in a completely different alphabet – Cyrillic text.
We walked too far along Nevsky Prospekt – the large boulevard running through the centre, thank goodness for Google Maps.
The evening was spent hunting for a restaurant with an English menu, which is no small task in Russia. After another long walk, we encountered a charming little restaurant with a fairy tale theme. And yes, an English menu.
It was a long day, but certainly a fine introduction to all that St. Petersburg had to offer. Tomorrow Timofey has arranged for us to visit an art college in St. Petersburg. With that in mind, we settled down to an early night accompanied by the constant hum of this large and charming city.