There were a few “I can’t believe I’m here!” moments during my travels. Arriving by night bus in the former imperial capital of the Russian Federation surely made it to my Top 3. Back in December, when I embarked on my allegedly Berliner new life, I never thought I’d set foot in Russia. I pushed my adventurous alter ego all the way to Eastern Europe’s far end and to this day, I’m proud of myself of having the balls to have become this bold. I would describe Russia as being a cultural shocking experience since VERY few inhabitants could converse in English, the signs were written in Cyrillic making it almost impossible to read, I needed a Tourist Visa prior to my visit which was new to me, etc. However, the beauty of traveling relies on how well you can adapt to any given situations regardless on the visited country. I still managed to meet great individuals who helped me find my way when I got a tad lost in St. Petersburg or Russia in general -note that our conversations were mainly translated by gesticulating on workouts’ standards! Seeing their reaction about my decision of coming to Russia by myself for the sake of nourishing my travel bug resulted of instantly making new friends such as meeting Russians who spoke very little English back at my hostel and introduced me to my very first Russian Vodka. Apparently there’s an old say “Vodka without beer is money thrown in the wind”… Oh Russia!
My only great advice I could give if you ever wish to visit Russia: please buy a self-teach book or take a lesson prior to your visit in order to learn the basic notions of the Russian language. This will save your life! When I was in Tallin, Estonia, I bought two books and spent two afternoons in a cute café learning how to read the cyrillic alphabet and a few important key phrases. I mean, after that little self-teaching session, I couldn’t converse in Russian, however, I was able to read worldwide known words such as cocktails, cosmopolitans, café, hotels, supermarkets, pasta, tequila-vodka (don’t ask), streets names, metro signs, etc. That alone will give you a great head start!
Where to sleep?
Stay central at Simple Hostel Nevsky, located in the historical city centre of Saint Petersburg, right on the city’s thoroughfare, 1-minute walk from Mayakovskaya Metro Station and about 10 minute walk from any tourist attractions. From there you can wander on Nevsky Prospect and see the Church of the Savior on Blood, Kazan Cathedral, Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace .
What to see?
- Church of the Savior on Blood
This Church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was severely wounded and died in March 1881. As Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage when a second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. His son, Alexander III started building the church in memory to his father’s death on the exact location of the attack and today, the Church of the Savior on Blood is one of the most visited attractions in St. Petersburg.
- Russian Museum
Located a few feet away from the Church of the Savior on Blood, The Russian Museum is the first state museum of Russian fine arts in the country. Give yourself a good 3 hours. Very interesting museum, one of my favorites!
- Kazan Cathedral
Kazan Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospect. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia.
Photo : cathédrale
Personally, I feel very bad about the fact I didn’t visit this iconic museum that is home to some of Leonard DaVinci’s art pieces. The State Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great also opened its door to the public since 1852. If you visit St. Petersburg, VISIT this Museum!
Source : Petersburg.blog.wm.edu
- Winter Palace
Alright, I may not have visited the Hermitage museum that is located inside the Winter Palace, however, seeing the Palace Square and Winter Palace while listening to my favourite childhood song “Once Upon a December” made my inner Anastasia do back flips in my mind. Even more at Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, the location of the opening scene of the cartoon movie where the father, Tsar Nicholas II, hosts a ball in order to celebrate the Romanov’s tricentennial, but that will be for my next article. Yes, truth to be told, when I was a little girl, I thought I was Anastasia, and seeing the Winter Palace in front of my eyes 17 years later with the perfect soundtrack was without a doubt one of the biggest highlights of my epic Euro Trip. Hermitage or not, my Russian bucket list was already complete just standing there, speechless in awe in front of my biggest childhood memories thinking “damn, I made it to Russia! I can’t believe I’m standing in front of the Winter Palace! Holy sh*t, I’m in Russia!”
Next stop : Pushkin, Russia
If you have any travel questions you would like answered regarding a certain country/city or any related questions about documentation or anything in general, feel free to write them down in the commentary section below this article. I will answer them shortly on The-Booklet.
All pictures were taken by me unless staten otherwise. Featured image taken by me
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