Do svidaniya, Mother Russia!

Hey folks. Sorry for the lack of update on this blog. You see, when I started the first leg of my train journey from Beijing, I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But when the train journey ended in St Petersburg, I felt wretched. I suppose it’s normal when you’re on the home stretch. I slept like a log for one whole day when I first arrived in St Petersburg and spent my time enjoying people watching in the warmth of the café and just wandered aimlessly around town. I could hardly believe that I had gone through half of the planned journey.

The last train journey from Moscow to St Petersburg was quite emotional and fun, too. I met a friendly Russian who was on her way to St Petersburg for work and a couple of Norwegian tourists whom I had the privilege to share the all -female coupe. We exchanged stories, opinions and whatnot and it definitely is one of the best memories ever. I had enough of vodkas whiff around this time and it was refreshing to have the opportunity to hold a decent conversation in English.

The hostel, which I stayed in St Petersburg, is in the city center and it was quite easy for me to navigate around.  And one fine night after dinner, I decided to stroll around town. It was such a breezy night and I walked to The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. It really is a beautiful church and I didn’t get to go in for it was closed at 7p.m. Occasionally, there would be a passerby who stop to whisper their prayer in front of the gate and tourists who marveled at the great architecture from a far. It was a pretty good stroll you might say. But, did I mention how cruel and tormenting St Petersburg’s weather could be? Combine some strong wind, heavy drizzle in Russian winter, the brain cells failure to process the fact that St Petersburg is famous for its chilly-to-the-bone wind which resulted in just one fleece jacket worn before stepping out. The verdict? The fastest brisk walk ever in my life. If I were to compete for the ancient Olympics in footrace, I definitely would have snatched the gold medal and set an unbreakable world record, mind you.

The visit to St Petersburg won’t be complete until you have seen Hermitage and of course I was determined to complete my visit. This is the biatch of Russian’s museums in my opinion. The best time to visit is definitely in winter for it usually has lesser visitors than in summer. Which only means one thing for me; I could take pictures all the way through without having to wait for my turn or being photo bombed by some crazy tourists who could hardly wait for a minute or two to pose in front of some paintings and upload the photo a.s.a.p. on Facebook. First time visitor should at least have some plans before stepping in the museum for it really is huge. And one whole day usually is not enough to see all the exhibitions. The museum’s map is a must for you could easily get lost in it. I read somewhere before that you must stick to the windows to navigate your ways. So if you keep to windows on the right side or on the left side, you’ll find all the best places in the museum. I did just that to find my way to the library of Nicholas II. And when I saw the room number, my heart was beating fast and I had the grin like a Cheshire cat. The highlight of the library is the English Gothic motifs and of course rows of bookcases arranged along the walls. There are books on religion, philosophy, history, chronicles of the imperial family and their travels, military arts, literature, law, science, medicine, agriculture, commerce, railways, art, and reference. I could only imagine the smell of the books and how massive the mantelpiece is. One could never leave this room without a heavy heart for it was a part of private apartments of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. I spent one whole day in the museum and I covered not even 1/3 of the museum. Is this a sign that I have to come back for another visit?

 

What would be the best way to bid farewell to St Petersburg if not seeing the beautiful city from St Isaac cathedral’s colonnade. Should I remind you that there are 300 steps up to the colonnade and wearing high heels would be a disaster? Well, I have seen a tragic drama while climbing up the stairs and what I could tell you is that the high heels wearing Russian women are not that invincible after all. The view on top really was magnificent; worth every rubles and every possible out of breath episodes you could ever imagine. The façade decoration is definitely outstanding. A must visit if you love architecture.

St Isaac Cathedral

 

If I could sum up St Petersburg in one word I would definitely say that this city is vibrant. It will always have a special place in my heart for this was where I yet again immersed in the beauty of Russian history and totally forgotten the terrible incident in Moscow. This is where my admiration for Russia being restored.