Tuesday, 17 December 2013

St Petersburg's wonders

Heres our latest blog on our trip to st  petersburg sorry its a little long  its not easy to condense this wonderful city  . We  left Vilnius in driving snow a Dr Zivago moment onthe 6th december
The train arrived about 10 minutes before departure. tickets and passport were checked by train attendants as usual before climbing on the train. Our couchette instead of six beds had only 4 this time so the bags went on one bed and the kids shared ( but we have realised that they are growing so fast they now needed a bed each, which makes storing our bags even more interesting from now on :-) The train left at 1949 according to the clock on the building opposite. On this trip we were going through the borders from Latvia into Russia. We only were given three entry forms for  four passports so with andy's  very minimal Russian and gestures the conductress offered to fill in our entry forms for us. This would be an eventful night, border crossings always are. Its easy to forget how anxious you can feel when they take your passport away while being confronted with a stern face of the border guards  (usually female nothing escapes them )  looking at you as if you have done wrong. Does it get easier with experience ..a little..  :-) we were woken at two am Checks took about 2 hrs to complete this included a lot of questions being asked, they were especially confused and needed dates  on when we were to return to uk ..We, confuse people!  :-) there was
checks around our cabin and lots of general noise..sleep was not an option.

I (Andy) woke up  around eight and enjoyed the scenery much the same as Poland andLithuania , flat, snowy landscape with mostly (in the country)  wooden houses each intheir own plot of land. In the city you generally find high rise buildings from manydifferent periods. You could see that there is on-going improvements of the buildingsthough in some  areas there's much to be done!

Tracey and kids woke much later we were just getting ready to eat our  breakfast of
bread cheese, and pastry and check out the latest town we had arrived in when the ladyguard  starts shouting at us, To our chargrin we forgot to forward our clocks we had lost an hour opps ..we were bundled off the train with lots of finger pointing and onto the platform at St Petersburg. Alisha had been asleep at that point,  lucky the rest us were dressed. so there we were standing amidst half packed bags and getting dressed in our coats hats etc, Alisha went to the hotel in her pjs plus outer clothes  :-) and to top it all the train became dormant just sitting there,  so much for the quickest train exit even before it leaves,
Not how i had espected to arrive in Russia :-)
   this is the bundled of the train before chaotic photo

          and here are the official getting off the train photos :-)



Russia ..we are in Russia wow !!! 

Country number 70 for Andy and my 65th, Alisha has 30 under her belt and seb is
on his 17th now .. not that we are counting of course :-)

After asking directions we walked  500 metres to the Metro , a slow hike with the kids. Then 3 metro stops for 12 roubles Nevsky prospect the main central street of St Petersburg... Phew our bags were heavy at the moment longest hike ever :-/ 

We spoilt ourselves with our hotel  and it was worth every penny, small and welcoming with big rooms, if a little noisy but then Nevsky prospect is one big noisy place. we dumped bags after a short break and we dived into St Petersburg.
We walked up Nevsky Prospect and visited the 3 story book shop in the beautiful singer building then saw the grand cathedral opposite with its semi circle imposing classical architecture. As if that wasn't enough we then walked around the outside of the The church of the resurrection of Christ, with its beautiful and dominant onion dome is i say the most stunning, the tiled splendor of the inside rivals even that of the architecture outside. Every corner has a surprise with the most beautiful building you can imagine
Stopping at last for tea we then made our way back to our hotel around 9pm we had been walking for about 7 hours around St Petersburg phew.


our view from hotel towards nevsky prospect main street



Next morning after a filling breakfast, we set of on what turned out to be another 7 hour walk. The best bit about staying on the central street of Nevsky prospect meant we could walk pretty much to all the main attractions, and did not need to take any metros.  we followed the famous canal to the field of mars (war memorial with eternal flame and the unassuming summer gardens which looked like a bare park ! and past Michaels Castle a  mix of dominant russian and  classical architecture and across  of the many bridges to the Peter and Paul Fortress  i (tracey) had tried to get some photos but we were walked in thick falling snow, wonderful to be in, the kids had a ball throwing snow balls and running around. I don't know where they got their energy from.

The fortress was mostly made up of some wonderful architectural building surrounded by a vast wall which sat on the edge of the Neva  river, now used for museum pieces and exhibitions,  we was able to walk around the outside of it and had some fantastic views of St Petersburg and the art museum 'The  Hermitage' where we planed to go next. The Peter and Paul  cathedral which had the burial crypts of the past tsars was impressive, Alisha especially felt for the last murdered tsar Nicholas 11  and his  5 children who were buried here  a good taste of history brought to life (or death ) ! .. 

I feel I am struggling to express in words what we are seeing we are running out of  superlatives after so much splendour :-) 

We then crossed a further 2 bridges with great views of ice floating down the river the temp was in the minus by now and snowing heavily. 
By this time we .. the kids had run out of energy and needed food .. and beer .. us.
so we made rush for the hermitage  hoping for a cafe. After a energy boost we set about looking at the arts such as the impressionists, french art, Russian art, you name we saw it. 

The building it's self is a work of art and was the home to the tsars, beautiful, wonderful and uplifting to the soul. 
the weather has been variable one moment bright blue sky's and the next white /grey sky' and the flurry of snow turning everthing white 
After  that we went to a traditional ( pivenice) bar and enjoyed grog and local beer 
Bottoms up 

All of my photos are on my facebook page if you fancy taking a look as i took so many :-) 
That all for now.. On the 10 th December we leave for Moscow  
from Russia with love xxx 












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