So here I am, writing about Russia again (Dec'12). This time though I have only good things to write. St. Petersburg was a pleasant surprise in all fronts: sight seeing, people and culture. I spent there 1 full day as a tourist and another 3 days working going to consumers homes. On the 1 day of tourism I was able to see the main attractions of the city and this is what I will tell you about.
What to see:
We started from the hotel which was very close to St. Isaac's Cathedral and did a loop going south first through Nevinski Prospect. to see the Kazaan's cathedral. Went east to see the Cathedral of the Saviour and then started making our way north through the Winter garden and finally crossing the river to see the Fourt. From there we started making our way back by walking at the bank of the river and finally getting to the Hermitage museum. Perfect circle that took about 6 hours with a ground full of snow. Ah, that another important detail, I was there at the beginning of December when the temperature was as low as -6C and as “mild” as +4C. Not ideal but if you have the right clothing the city looks amazing under snow. Just be aware that it is only day light from 10.30 until 17.00 at this time of the year. Anyway, let's get to the details…
St Isaac's Cathedral: huge opponent construction with spectacular interior full of gold and chandeliers. You can climb up to the roof top and have a panoramic view of the city. Super recommend it!
Nevinski Prospect: on tour guides you will see it described as the Champs Elisee of St. Petersburg. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. It is just a large avenue with shops and restaurants.
Kazaan's cathedral: again very impressive inside. I visited on a sunday so there was a lot of locals there praying.
Cathedral of the Saviour: this is what you would expect from a Russian cathedral – colourful onion tops. Gorgeous with all the intrinsic details and colours. It is set next to a garden that makes it all that more magical. Inside it is all covered with mosaic but not particularly impressive in my opinion. Outside is the highlight.
Summer Garden: funny enough the garden is called Summer Garden and I wrote at the summary it was called Winter Garden. Well, it could well be called Winter garden when it is full of white fluffy snow that buffer any noise. Lovely. Worth the walk around. Close to the garden is the Russian Museum but I didn't have a chance to go in or more truthfully, didn't want to miss day light going in to a museum.
Fourt: Very large with lots of things to do. There are lots in reconstruction so I didn't get the full effect of it. Nevertheless it is very impressive for its history. You have a chance to go into the prison where real convicts were until not too long ago. Creepy.
The walk from the Fourt by the bridges to get to the Winter Palace/ Hermitage Museum gives you the chance to enjoy the view of the river. In my case, the vision of the end of the world…See the picture. Crazy way to freeze.
Hermitage Museum: this is the place also called Winter Palace. It was built by Peter the Great, who's statue is right outside looking to the river. It is his master piece that he never got to live in. All the combinations of different artists make the rooms so different and so special. All very grand of course. The collection inside are tremendously diverse. Nothing particularly amazing in my opinion but the rooms…ah the rooms. You can just see the parties and banquets held there as well as political conversations that changes the wold we live in. Absolutely a treat. It can takes days to go through everything. Be aware the the theatre is closed for visitors.
Not to worry about the theatre, go to Mariinski theatre to enjoy a ballet. What an experience. We saw Raimond with the Kirov group and it was incredibly special.
Borsch is delicious. Who would have thought that a soup made of beetroot would be that good. I certainly didn't. I had the best one in a restaurant called something like the No Russian Vodka.
Cafe Singer: set inside a book store in Nevinski Prospect you can enjoy a nice pastry, dessert or even some ice dumplings with the view of the Kazaan's cathedral. Very nice. Dumplings are small little dough bags filled with something and then steamed. Portions are not too big so don't expect to have a feast on them.
Terrassa: supposed to be very cool but it is not. Has a nice view if you can sit on the balcony but being inside is just a snobbish place with no heart. It serves anything from Strogonoff to Pizza and sushi. Really?? Service is terrible.
Accomodation: the centre is the place to be to be close to the attractions. I stayed at the Renaissance which was very good and not very expensive.
Returnability: very likely. One day I will go back in the summer to see the city with day light for 20 hours.
Recommendability: 100%. Everyone should go one day.