St. Petersburg (Thur) 6 May 2010

Who would’ve thought that I’ll be in Russia? Never have thought that I’d actually be traveling in friggin Russia!

St. Petes seems very jaded. Faded glory.

Currently in the Hermitage, reputedly one of the greatest art museums in the world. Free entry first Thursday of every month!

Seems like I’ve been quite lucky with these things. Was in Berlin on the one day a week they provide free entry. And now here on the one day a MONTH they give free entry! Woohoo!

I think once you get over the shock of being in Russia and the Russian people, St. Petes is actually not too bad. Especially on a sunny day. It’s got the grandeur of Europe, the canals of Venice, the palaces of France.

According to Kate though, the tour guide, it’s sunny here only 60 days a year…

Went on a Peterswalk yesterday, where Kate was a fantastic guide, although I didn’t share her enthusiasm for the city. (!)

Met a Canadian and two Aussies, so it was great to finally have people I can speak to!

Kate was very helpful. She even took us to coffee and lunch and sat with us. She took is to this place that serves fantastic Russian soups and pies!  She also marked on our maps where there is good food to be found near our hostels.

The walk must’ve lasted from 10.30am to 4pm, although technically it was supposed to last only four hours. Kate was fantastic and went out of her way to help us. I highly recommend Peterswalk.

Seeing a lot more tourists today. Perhaps it’s coz I’m at the Hermitage. Wierdly enough, there are quite a few Japanese as well.

I asked Kate if Russians are welcoming towards foreigners. She replied that yes, they are and that they’re willing to help, it’s just that they don’t speak any English.

I’m not convinced however, nor are the other travelers I’ve spoken to.

But she also went on to say that there’s little concept of customer service here, and to not expect too much from waiters and such.


I had at first thought that it must be a race thing, but Erin the Canadian I spoke to said she’s had the same experiences as I have had with the locals. She said she was on a train with a Russian woman for three days and all that time, she never smiled or spoke to her. However, miraculously, at 3.5 days, she finally warmed to her and grinned!

So now, the theory is that, for the Russians to warm to you, you have to spend at least 3.5 days with them in close proximity. Otherwise, it’s hopeless. :)

I’m trying not to let the Russians harden me. I find myself being just as rude now and again, coz I get so frustrated. But then I’ll catch myself and feel really bad, especially when I chance upon the rare friendly local. :(

After a hellish first day in Russia and meeting the Receptionist from Hell, I’ve actually warmed to the city. There’s lots of museums, palaces, cathedrals and squares to explore.

But having been to France, Italy, the UK and New York, I feel like I’ve become immune to the extravagances of grand architecture and extensive museums.

I think, at the moment, with all my travels combined, I’ve seen enough palaces, churches and cathedrals, and enough museums and galleries to last a life-time.

Right now, I feel like I just want to hang-out and do more action/adventure/outdoorsy stuff. If you give me some climbing and English country-side now, I’d absolutely love it!

Not to take anything away from St. Petes though, coz I’m aware I sound like an ungrateful bitch right now. Come if you love European grandeur. Come if you haven’t been to much of Western Europe. Just be warned of the people and the weather!


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