It all starts here!

Trip Start Jun 09, 2013
1
9
Trip End Ongoing

Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Monday, June 10, 2013

Hey guys, after arriving in St Petersburg following a lovely overnight flight we then somehow had to find our way into the city centre on Russian public transport. So after Catherine got physically pushed out of the way by a old Russian lady at the information desk we attempted our first bus ride. The bus ride was OK however if it wasn't for a kind lady (who did however laugh at us at first) to wave us off at the main station we probably would have got quite lost. After kindly giving us directions on the metro system she sent us on our way. So the easy part was over, now for the Russian metro system! Although not a single sign had been translated it wasn't too difficult to find our way and after checking in to the Red House Hostel we got some shut eye to make up for a sleepless night. 

 That night we met the rest of the group and our honcho, Vlad. He took us to a nice little cafe where he gave us the low down on St Petersburg. We then introduced ourselves to the group, and to my surprise we found the majority of the group had also quit their jobs to travel for a year or more. Following the formalities we went for a nice walk and ended the night with a fantastic traditional Russian meal.

The next morning we headed for the Hermitage, a massive museum with 365 rooms (for each day of the year). We got there, stood in the queue for tickets for 30 mins and decided we couldn't be bothered waiting any more, as we had hardly moved! So instead, we went for a nice coffee and headed over to the Peter and Paul fortress. Inside the fortress was a huge cathedral, which inside had more gold than Argos Elizabeth Duke collection (and that is a LOT). Also witnessed the always excellent Russian workmanship - a corrugated iron fence near the cathedral blew off in the wind into a group of people, lovely! After that we went to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (or something like that) which looks a little like St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Another huge building, the Russians built it after Alexander ll was assassinated in 1881. 

In the evening we went to the Mariinsky Theatre to watch Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. The theatre was very grand and we felt a bit out of place in our jeans and t shirts with everyone milling about in suits and dresses! The performance was excellent and we really enjoyed it, we felt like we had been transported back in time watching the ballet in Russia. Having the worst seats in the house was a slight problem though - craning our heads over and we could still only see half the stage!!
 
 On our final day in St Petersburg we decided to head out of the city to Tsar's Palace Gardens. The main attraction itself is filled with hundreds of fountains and supposed to be really beautiful. However it is also very expensive, so instead we wondered round the outer gardens which where equally as beautiful but probably not as spectacular.
 After our walk we all decided to have lunch and a nice beer, which seemed to carry on flowing after our return to St Petersburg. After hours of sipping some of Russia's finest we headed for the station for our first train journey of our trip.We had been told that this particular train was the nicest of them all and I can see why. It was a lot nicer than anyone expected which actually filled me with confidence for what to expect from the others trains still to come.
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