St Pete

St Petersburg has so far been the major standout of the trip, It was just so unexpectedly nice and very different from Moscow. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of things to do or handfuls of things to see, but for lack of a better word it just had such a good vibe to it.

The first thing we did was head for the Hermitage, used by the tsars as a winter palace, these days it has been turned into an enormous museum that probably wouldn’t be too far off the size of the Louvre. On the way we stopped by the Church of the Saviour on Blood, another highly decorated and colourful church along the same kind of lines as St Basils.

We then made it to the Hermitage, which is a pretty impressive building just in itself, so large and filled with grandiose staircases and rooms.

The place housed everything from Picasso and Monet paintings, right through to religious artifacts and rooms as they originally were in the days when it was used as a palace. All relatively standard museum fare really, so I didn’t take too many photos, except this one of Jesus on meth.

"the bugs, crawling, my skin, they won't stop!!"

Apparently St Pete has been dubbed the ‘Venice of the North’ which seems apt with the winding canals meandering through the city. At least it’s not as crowded and hard to navigate as the Italian city.

The canals all converge at a central point that opens out into a harbour, and surrounded by the impressive and imposing structure of the Hermitage and similar styled buildings lining the shores. To to the north is a fort used several centuries back to defend the city. It was relatively unimpressive to walk through, but looked kinda neat from afar.

Close by was a really large pirate ship which on closer inspection turned out to be a permanently moored floating restaurant and gym.

For some weird reason the city was convinced to buy a pair of 3500 year old sphinxes (is that even a word?) which now sit outside of the art institute on the riverbank. Apparently since their installation local sculptors have been trying to cash in by making their own, and I believe there are now quite a few scattered around the city. Here are the real ones:

Also of note, but unfortunately I have no pictures for, was that the city was celebrating its own birthday for the weekend we were there. The only thing we really got to see was some fireworks and a parade, with a motorcycle motorcade and marching bands and hurrah for parades and stuff.

Anyways, I feel like I should have taken a lot more photos for a city that I really enjoyed so much, but there you have it. St Pete, you should go see it sometime.

EDIT: One of my most absurd travel moments occurred while I was travelling through St Petersburg, and it’s one I constantly recount, mainly because I still have no idea what happened. The story goes that Dave and I were walking down the main street, minding our own business. We obviously looked like we weren’t local, and if our clothing didn’t give us away then surely our native tongue did. Out of nowhere a local guy, somewhat built and someone I wouldn’t want to mess with, walked up to us, slapped me on the arm and queried if we were Americans. When we replied no he responds with a  quick “oh, okay then, you go” and walked back in the same direction from which he came. I’d love to know what this was all about, but nothing about the whole incident seems to make any sense.

Written on May 31, 2011