One summer we decided to exchange white sand and sea holidays to the toddle on the grey pavement. Our destination was Northern Venice, Window to Europe or just Saint Petersburg – Russian city, which earlier in the history was the Imperial capital of Russia as well. Maybe this aspect explains, why this city is so beautiful. And it is really so. Watching breathtaking scenery, feeling uplifted atmosphere, being so near the legendary bohemian life, touching high class art, getting painted satire of yourself, shopping in souvenir markets and buying Matriyoshkas or bijoux with traditional Russian motives, getting wet after strong rain and then having a walk along the Neva river, kissing down the Church of the Savior on Blood, smiling at children who are having a bath in the fountain, being served by displeased locals in the service area, like one woman, who was so unsatisfied when we disturbed her “doing-nothing” with wanting to buy the ice-cream, tasting legendary kvass from barrels, coming back home after intensive museum day and eating soup from tetra-packs. Everything was so great, so sublime, so emotional. I think that those, who visited this golden city, know what I mean. It’s hard to express that in words, it must bee seen and felt.
So, we decided to have a punk trip, and to save money for everything where is not necessary to spend more. Saving started with a night train from Vilnius to Saint Petersburg with cheapest seats, where you could not lay down… Yes 16 hours trip was kind of challenging, but we survived without any extra consequences. Secondly, we’ve chosen a cheap hostel. And thirdly, we decided to make food by ourselves instead of eating in restaurants. Actually at that time I was totally not interested in trying different cuisines, so to grab bread and cheese spread or soup in tetra-pack from local shop was more than normal. Or Shawarma on our way, because all the city was full of these kiosks…
So, we saved money on previously mentioned aspects but totally wasted them for museums. I could call this trip as the most cultural and educative from all. But really we took a good dose of Saint Petersburg’s cultural expression: all the week 4-5 museums per day. Because this city has an endless quantity of them… I don’t know if Zoo counts, but I saw some animals, which I’ve never seen with my own eyes before, so let’s put it on this educational list as well. And about money. If you are Russian, entrance to the museum has one price, but if you are a tourist – this cost is thrice higher. I’m glad that my friend knew Russian very well, so usually we were not facing this problem. But if you can’t speak this language – accept the fact that your travel there will be much more expensive. And the funniest thing for me is that they are playing with open cards – all the prices and their differences are written on the same paper straight before your eyes in the ticket office. And in all the museums the same.
I could not remember a full list of visited places, but I can share what left me the biggest impressions. Yes, “Hermitage” with its 2.8 million pieces of art. Did you visit “The Musée du Louvre” in Paris or “Galleria degli Uffizi” in Florence? I am not speaking about of masterpieces and other art exhibited in these world famous museums, but atmosphere – in all previously mentioned museums is very similar: huge places and invaluable artworks resembling long and deep history. Just have in mind, that visiting “Hermitage” can start with waiting in a long line for tickets.
“Kunst kamera” – anthropology and ethnography museum – I remember extremely well. This was the place, which I left with nausea. And the reason of it – collection of preserved humans’ and animals’ fetus with anatomical deficiencies. Despite such side effect – a place definitely worth visiting.
As well it is lovely to take a boat trip under countless number of bridges, part of which are opening ones. If you are travelling in summertime – don’t forget to stay awake for the midnight sun what is always magical.
For the end of the story need some statistics? More than 220 museums, 80 theatres, 342 bridges, one of the deepest underground in the world with 60-70 meters depth beneath the ground and some escalators of 150 meters. In todays Saint Petersburg there are nearly hundred of rivers and various canals, which in total can make around 300 meters of length. So that’s why at the beginning of the text I called this city as Northern Venice.
So, summa summarum, Saint Petersburg – city, definitely worth visiting. Just buy tickets, ask for the visa and go for it!