Sunday, September 30, 2012

St. Petersburg day II


 Our last day in St. Petersburg we spent partly in Peterhof, a neighborhood outside the center where Peter the Great had his summer residence. Peterhof was very easily accessible by public transportation. Don't go there too early in the morning regarding to the traffic jams. Another possibility is to go with the boat. We chose the first option for the outward journey. First we went by metro to the Avtovo station. The busses there leave directly to the palace of Peterhof. You just need to cross the road and you'll see those busses waiting. This journey takes no longer than a half an hour.
The weather is beautiful, sunny and Peterhof is extremely crowded. The land is large enough for all visitors, but the most gather in front of the golden fountains, the most famous piece of the summer residence.
A bit further away is a funny fountain where children are well entertained. This one is very spontaneous and irregular or actually it is controlled by someone behind. It may seem a bit lame maybe, but such technique was very special and innovative in the time of Peter.
On our way back we take the boat which brings us directly to the Saint Isaac's Cathedral. We eat some and rest a bit for our next destination.
Half Russia of maybe rather former Soviet Union appreciates the rock legend Viktor Tsoi. Even after 21 years since his fatal car accident he remains relevant and is loved by young and old. Which is reflected in it's well-kept grave. Young people come there daily to play his songs and to hang out of respect for his short but groundbreaking music career.
I consider myself as a fan and found this grave as important as any other sights of St. Petersburg. The cemetery is not very easy to find, but with the guidance of a local friend it all went a lot faster.
We got off at the metro Ploschad Muzhestva and from there we walked about 20 minutes. By this route we walked thorough the back straight to the grave of Victor Tsoi. On our way back we took the bus at the entrance at the cemetery which took us to the center.
The rest of the evening we spend eating and drinkeng with friends. And before we went back to our hotel, we took a look at the open bridge, an iconic sight of St. Petersburg.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

St. Petersburg day I

Henri Matisse - La Danse

As I already described, we had our hotel on the Nevski Prospect. From there, most sights of St. Petersburg are easily accessible by foot. So we took an enjoyable walk towards the Palace Embankment. First we walked along the Kazan Cathedral. Later on the other side we caught a glimpse of the most famous Church of the Spilled Blood. Hermitage was our first goal. The churches were saved for later in the day.
The tickets purchase was a bit confusing. As usual, in Russia the foreigner pays more for the entrance. Theoretically I am a russian, but Ukrainian on paper (born in the USSR), so it is usually not a problem for me to purchase the tickets for local prices. At the counter the Russians suppose to show their ID, after waiting too long in the queue. Foreigners can buy their tickets at the vending machines and go straight inside. I didn't accept I was a foreigner first and waited too long in the queue. Later I understood that showing the passport was essential and I would not get my local discount. So I paid the full price anyway.
Seeing all at once in the Hermitage museum is a mission impossible, everybody knows that. Walking along the halls is the best option. I didn't want to miss couple of works and searched for the halls I wanted to see. One of the most popular art pieces in the museum is Rembrandt's Danae. After the painting was brutally damaged by a crazy visitor, Danae is restored and back on the wall again.
There is so much classical art so after a while I wanted to be cheered up by something more contemporary. On the last floor the French impressionists provide a right contrast in the collection.
We did not stay too long at the Hermitage, because there is more to see in St. Petersburg.
The ultimate way to discover St. Petersburg is by boat, which goes along the canals and river. Here you see several sites at once. This trip has given me the ideas for the next time.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

To St. Petersburg via Tallinn


I prefer to fly at once to my destination. Only Estonian Air offers a cheaper flight to St. Petersburg and a possibility to visit the city of Tallinn for a few hours. Because I have never been to the Baltic states before, I could not refuse such travel idea.
The flight from Amsterdam to Tallinn takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. Tallinn airport is relatively small and the city centre is only fifteen minutes by taxi. When the luggage was checked through to St. Petersburg, we left the hand luggage in the lockers and took a taxi to the centre of Tallinn. Taxi costs only 10 euros, which is not expensive, especially when you go with more people.
We had 7 hours until the next flight which was plenty for the exploration.
The old town of Tallinn is compact and adorable. It is not necessary to be prepared here, just to stroll around is fun too. Nice cafes are everywhere, so you will not have any hunger or thirst. On the hill is one of the famous sights of Tallinn, the Russian Orthodox Church together with a panorama view point. If you wonder whether it makes sense to climb up, then it's absolutely worthwhile to do so.
Those few hours I had spend in Tallinn gave me a clear picture of the city. I was very glad to have seen the place. And I was even happier to go to Russia’s St. Petersburg after.
On the way back to the airport we had a chatty taxi driver. He was explaining the differences between the soviet and present times: 'This building in Russian times was a successful factory, now it's a sex club.'
At the airport it seemed like our flight was the only one that night. A very few people were still around. And indeed al of them went to St. Petersburg aswell.
The duration of that flight was only 1 hour and 10 minutes. During the landing I saw a piece of the illuminated city.
The passport control in St. Petersburg took a very long time. Although the bus to downtown was fortunately still there. You can always take a taxi, but public transport is ofcouse the cheapest way to get in the centre. K900 is a bus that goes to the metro Vladimirskaya, which is 10 minutes away from Nevski Prospekt. That's where our hotel was.
Hotel was fairly easy to find thanks to the explanation I received via email.
It was already quite late, but I had friends in town waiting for us to have a drink until deep into the night.
Even at night St. Petersburg looked gorgeous. Some call it the city 'Venice of the north' or 'Amsterdam of the east'. To be honest I did not see those comparisons. St. Petersburg is a emblematic city like no other one.  

Blogloving follow button

Follow on Bloglovin