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St Petersburg, Russia

Written on: Monday July 7th, 2008

A journal entry from: Exploring the Baltic Sea by Yacht

What can I say about my experience in Russia? it was difficult.

everything about Russia was difficult. getting off the boat each day was a hassle. visas were a hassle. getting a cab was a hassle, but so was walking anywhere. there were HUGE lineups everywhere we went. there was a language barrier. the roads were not made for pedestrians. i was followed for an hour by russian paparazzi. nothing about St Petersburg was easy.

but that doesn't mean it wasn't beautiful, in its own way. i had a few hours each day to explore, which really meant i didn't see much because it took so long to walk everywhere, AND we usually had to wait to get our visas each day. i saw a lot of ornamental architecture, grand buildings, and beautiful churches.

my favourite building by far was the Church on Spilled Blood. The name refers to the blood of the assassinated Alexander II of Russia, who was mortally wounded on that site in 1881. The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics - according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. it was by far the most unique building i saw in st petersburg, which made me love it all the more for standing out against all the architecture around it.

the other 'must-see' for me was the Hermitage Museum. it is one of the largest museums in the world, with over three million works of art (not all on display at once) and one of the oldest art galleries and museums of human history and culture in the world. There are six buildings, but the art i wanted to see was in the Winter Palace, which used to be the official residence of the Russian Tsars. the Winter Palace is beautiful, and it where Catherine the Great lived, as the first imperial occupant of the building. it is THE tourist attraction in st petersburg, so i knew it was busy. but when i showed up the first time, the line up was WAY too long, so i decided to show up an hour before it opened the next day so i would definitely get in. however, i think about 2 kilmoter's worth of other people ALSO had the same plan, so it was tricky to get in. i wasn't exactly the most polite traveler that way, and sort of had to sneek my way to the front of the line, otherwise i never would have gotten to see it. three hours (which is all i had) isn't even enough for the line up, let alone to really SEE the museum, so i had to be resourceful. i ended up getting in with about 45 minutes to see the place, so i literally paid for my ticket and RAN up to the fifth floor to see the impressionist collection. it was amazing, as was every room i sprinted to on the way there. the interior of the museum was incredible! definitely worth the wait and stress, if only just to see it for 45 minutes.

i must say that even though st petersburg isn't at the top of my list for future travels, i will definitely return here one day to see the rest of what the city has to offer. it will require a lot more time, money and freedom than i was granted for this particular trip.