I arrived in St.Petersburg two minutes ahead of schedule after an extremely smooth and efficient customs procedure on the train.
Once out of the station, I was offered a taxi ride where the driver said he would go by the meter, which was a relief, until I realised he was using a dodgy meter. Too late to renegotiate the trip then! I just had to pay the €40 for a 10 minute ride! Expensive lesson learnt: There are countries where taxis conscientiously using the meter is bad news. Now I know.
St.Petersburg is an amazing city with so much to offer. I spent the first day at the Hermitage. It is the most amazing arts museum I’ve ever been to. Just the entrance staircase is breathtaking.
After having walked through a few rooms, I felt in a daze: Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci. On and on it went. It’s like walking through a sea of master pieces. I felt totally uplifted after a few hours at the Hermitage. If this was all I saw in St.Petersburg, it would have been worth it.
On the second day, it was raining, but that didn’t stop me. I saw the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood (the name refers to the fact that Alexander II was assassinated there). Stunning church.
Next, I went to the newly-opened Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art. It was not easy to find, but totally worth it. Again, I have to say that this is one of the best contemporary art museums I’ve ever visited. I liked almost everything I saw. On all five floors!
This morning, I went to see Peterhof, the tsar’s summer residence – in spite of the weather report saying rain most of the day. In fact, the sun was shining the whole time I was there. Stunning palace and amazing grounds.
Back in St.Petersburg, I visited the St.Petersburg Mosque. It looked just like out of my Silk Road trip two years ago.
After that, I walked over to the Paul & Peter Fortress, which originally was built by the Russians to defend them against us (peaceful) Swedes. The St. Paul and St. Peter Cathedral, which is part of the fortress area, was quite different from the church I saw earlier. This is where the last tsar of Russia and his family finally were buried some 15 years ago.
Well, tonight I’m taking the night train to Moscow. This will be the first leg proper of my Trans-Siberian rail trip. Hopefully, I should sleep well on the train after all this sightseeing.
St.Petersburg has been a fantastic start to my 9,994+ km train trip. It couldn’t have been better.