St Petersburg, Saint Petersburg, Russia
4 days - June 2017
I’ve heard Cedric so many times telling me how much he wanted to go to St Petersburg. Living in Australia and not being the trip manager in our relationship he had to wait for 5 years before finally going there ! And it was for a special occasion: our mini-honeymoon straight after our Parisian wedding :)
On a cold summer night we’ve landed in St Petersburg and bought a Sim Card from a man coming straight from the Americans (show I recommend) with his 80’s yellow-tinted aviator glasses and his fringe! We took a Uber who literally drove in a straight line for 30 minutes, such typical soviet avenues.
We wanted to discover something totally different from Australia so an historic city with heritage-listed buildings, impressive cathedrals and with an Orthodox background was perfect for this trip! The City of the Tsars didn’t disappoint.
Our Airbnb was perfectly located in the Golden Triangle of the City - in fact the location was so perfect that we almost forgot to take the Metro to discover the stunning propagandist art works in the stations ! Every train station is an open-air museum (the city itself is an open-air museum actually). Sydney Trains, something to get inspired from maybe? One thing that caught our eye was how deep the stations were built. Some are 100m deep!
For our first visit I wanted to discover what I consider as being the icon of the City: the church of the Savior on Blood. Built where Alexander II was killed, the Church presents the typical domes of the Orthodox influence (or ice-cream balls as Cedric kept calling them). The inside is also really stunning with 7,700 square meters of mosaic. The Church was damaged during the Russian Revolution and later on has been used as a morgue and vegetable warehouse during WWII. A must-do ! We especially enjoyed seeing the sunset on the Church around 1am (yes sunset at 1am, we were there during the White nights!)
Another Must-do is cruising on the Neva River. St Petersburg is called the Venice of the North (yes I know it can be used for Amsterdam or Bruges as well) as Peter The Great built the city around a network of canals and rivers. The wind rose and it was freeeeezing (despite being in June) but we’ve loved our little cruise, admiring the picturesque sceneries and the romantic atmosphere.
On Day 2 we’ve started with the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace. The Museum is one of the largest and oldest museum in the world. We’ve been told that if someone spent one minute looking at every exhibit in The Museum, it would take seven years to see everything. Probably exaggerated but clearly illustrated the massive collection they have. Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, Goya, Monet, I can’t remember all the paintings we saw because they were so many but also because I was fascinated by the architecture of the Winter Palace! We left the museum 6 hours later with a neck pain as we didn’t stop watching the ceiling fresco.
We’ve then spent the night wandering around he Golden Triangle and Nevski prospect, listening to musicians playing in the streets and enjoying the white nights. Fantastic to have daylight until 1am! Being a big fan of Romain Duris (Hope Cedric won’t read that) we also went to the famous symmetrical Rossi Street (remember the scene in the French Movie les Poupees Russes?) I haven’t checked but apparently ts height and width are identical (22 metres), and its length (220 metres) is exactly ten times its width!
Finally on Day 3 we took a speedboat to reach Peterhof Palace. The Russian Versailles has been ordered by Peter the Great and is recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site. There are 64 fountains and 38 statues surrounding the Grand Cascade. Destroyed by the Germans it took 50 years to renovate. Another majestuous site in St Petersburg, a must-do again.
Finally for our last visit we headed to St Isaac Cathedral. The highlight of our trip! The Orthodox Basilica is stunning with its dome rising 101m, plated with pure gold, the number of reliefs, columns, marbles and mosaics inside. SPLENDID! We also climbed to reach the top of the cathedral and have a view on the City.
You rock Peter the Great, the city you built is magnificent, amazing, romantic and can rivalise with our dear Paris ;) (Cedric edits this post: “no come on nothing can be compared to Paris!)
# Airbnb is really popular and at a reasonable price; make sure to rent an apartment close to the Hermitage Museum, you will enjoy having everything only a short walking distance from your accommodation
# Make sure to do the cruise going through the canals, not the one going to the river only
# Uber is present in St Petersburg and at a really low rates. It costed us only 11dol for a 30min trip. Hope you don’t mind being in Fast & Furious though….!
# Make sure to try the local food in traditional cafe (Borscht, potato, Pelmeni (filled ravioli), Blini, Beef Stroganoff.