THE BUDA & SOVIET SERIES PT3
ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
After the usual €171 and twice driving 5 hours for my visa run into Dublin I was good to go to Russia for the next 7 days – not before Budapest of course.
JUST ME AND A SEMI NAKED MAN IN A CABIN
I arrived and checked into Soul Kitchen Hostel which is one of my favourite hostels to this date. It had everything I needed, great facilities, great community, friendly staff and the best rooms I’ve seen.
WHERE IS ST PETERSBURG?
St Petersburg & The Red Arrow to Moscow
St Petersburg surprised me from the start, and due to it’s location on the Baltic Sea the European influence is obvious. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the great who sits proudly upon the bronze horse in the city.
ST ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL
I arrived pretty late, checked in and immediately took a walk around the city. St Isaac’s Cathedral is located just 2 minutes walk from the hostel and is a museum worth visiting. It was dedicated to St Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great. Sunset was fast approaching so I headed to the Neva River for incredible views of the promenade.
After a night in the hostel drinking with a group of Israelis today was again spent walking around the city admiring the sites.
CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR ON SPILLED BLOOD
This is without doubt, St Petersburg’s most iconic building. Don’t be fooled however as the buildings is only around 100 years old. This marks the spot with Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. As a memorial his son decided to build the church and similar to the Cathedral it is now used as a museum.
RUSSIAN VODKA MUSEUM
You cannot visit Russia without going to a Vodka museum! Just one bit of advice however, do not go on an empty stomach. Some food will be offered but they are traditional snacks such as fish and pickles, two things I could never stomach and especially not after downing 3 shots of straight vodka. It’s safe to say I was going to sleep soundly tonight.
PETER & PAUL FORTRESS
After some greasy eggs and Russian pancakes to help me with my hangover I took a trip across the Neva River to explore the Peter & Paul Fortress. This was the original citadel of the city and built a few years after it was founded. Since then it has had many different uses, such as a prison and execution ground in the 1920s under the Bolshevik government.
THE RED ARROW
Again, this was another item on my bucket list I’ve always wanted to do and it wasn’t without it’s entertainment. Firstly, the traditions of Russia are clear from the start, staff are all in full soviet uniform and the train doesn’t depart until the national anthem is played over the tannoy.
The it was off to my twin room to meet my roommate for the night. Had already settled himself in and began his snoring even before the train took off from the platform, result!
I loved the train and that’s what this experience was all about but it would have been good to do something similar during the day. I’m not sure what the scenery was like obviously but it was a shame that I missed out on it.
It was interesting having breakfast 2 feet in front of a semi naked man that you have never spoken to and can’t speak English. For the record my Russia was just as bad. I could have flown and made the trip much quicker but again it was all about experiencing the overnight train and I was glad I signed up for it.
- PEOPLE – 8/10
- BACKPACKING – 8/10
- SAFETY – 8/10
- WEATHER – 7/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7.5/10
- FOOD – 7/10
- VALUE – 8/10
- HIGHLIGHT – the people, hostel and architecture
- VISIT AGAIN – Yes
- RATING – 8/10
Moscow appears to be the popular place for tourists however if you are going to the length of getting a visa I would add a few days onto your trip to fit in St Petersburg.
Moscow! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been to St Petersburg?
- What was your highlight?
- Did you go between St Petersburg and Moscow?
- How did you travel?
Let me know in the comments below . . .