Saint Petersburg, named after the patron saint of its founder, Tsar Peter ‘The Great’, a man who had extensively toured Europe and built the city as ‘a window to the west’. The city itself has a rather European feel, built over a maze of canals and set upon the mighty Neva river.
We’re staying in the ‘East End’ of St.Pete, but there’s no Queen Vic here, as the locals just decide to buy beer and vodka from the 24 hour supermarket and drink it outside.
Alexander Nevsky, a Russian nobleman who protected his great nation from foreign forces, think a Russian William Wallace, has his very own street, Nevsky Prospekt. It has been the city’s main shopping and fashionable street since its founding. A walk down ‘the avenue’ takes you past many monuments, palaces and churches.
We took a boat ride around the canals and the Neva river. Some of the bridges close at night shutting of the islands from the rest of the city. So best not miss that last bus home.
Paid a visit to the museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, which is the oldest museum in Saint Petersburg and possibly the strangest. It features Peter the great’s personal collection of exhibits from around the world, the stand out being an assortment of pickled foetuses in the anatomical section, from Siamese twins to cyclops babies. Sadly photos were forbidden.
We had a short stroll around Peter and Paul fortress, a structure built to keep the Swedes out. I couldn’t see two little dickie birds though.
While in Saint Petersburg, I really wanted to go to the football match between Zenit and AC Milan. I asked a couple of young Zenit fans where I could buy tickets. They hardly spoke English but with the few Russian phrases I know, and some sign language, we came to the conclusion it was sold out and that touts were selling them at a high price. Funny how you can somehow communicate by talking in your own language and playing charades. It’s like in Star Wars how Hann Solo and Chewbacca don’t speak each other’s languages but can still strike up a conversation….
Apparently, no visit to Saint Petersburg is complete without a visit to the state hermitage museum. A gargantuan collection of priceless art from ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt among others. Just think this started off as a private collection presented to Catherine the Great, and I thought my football sticker collection was cool…