Wanderlust – Russia: Day 9 of 10

This morning we took the suburban train to a small town called Pushkin. It is about 27 km from St Petersburg and only takes about half an hour of travel by train. We took the train from the Vitbesky railway station to the Tsarskoye Selo station.

Pushkin is a very nice little town. Accordingly the people seem to be extra friendly. I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to visit it!

The main tourist attraction in Pushkin is the Catherine Park and Catherine Palace, otherwise known as the Summer Palace. 

The park is very beautiful – even in winter. Entrance to the park is only charged during summer.

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The palace is magnificent and if I might add very shiny on the inside. It is detinitely worth the visit. The caretakers do a great job – we even had to wear brown slippers over our boots!

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We had lunch in the town and then returned to St. Petersburg. 

We then spent almost an hour in a post office just to get stamps.. We thought that we sometimes have a problem with service delivery in our country but this topped it by far! Luckily we were eventually helped.

Our evening was spent packing since we have an early flight tomorrow and the transfer is picking us up at 6:00.  Good night all!


Wanderlust – Russia: Day 8 of 10

My husband is like a kid whenever he sees a zoo or aquarium. So obviously we had to go to the Planet Neptune Oceanarium as soon as he saw that it is close to our hotel. I must say that they truly have lots of weird and wonderful fish species. It was just a bit difficult to find the place. When walking around in Russia, make sure to have both an English and Russian version of a map with you..

Thereafter, on our way to the closest metro station, we had to walk through a Christmas market. It was so nice and cheerful!

We then took the metro to the station closest to Peter and Paul Fortress. This is considered to be the place where St. Petersburg was started. In the middle of the fortress is the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul.

Walking back to the metro was really extremely cold. That was when we started dreaming of South Africa’s warm and sunny weather. It feels unreal that we’ll be walking around in shorts next week. It started snowing heavily while we were walking. We tried capturing it on photos but it is difficult – flash photography worked the best but does not really do it justice.

We had dinner at a very nice pub called Shamrock Irish Bar. After the cold, they provided the best comfort food that we could think of: meatloaf and cottage pie with a Guinness and some cider on the side.
We then did something that made me realise that dreams do come true: we watched The Nutcracker ballet in the Mariinsky Theatre. It is the same theatre where it premiered in 1892. The theatre is very beautiful and incomparable.

Me being me, I enjoyed the music the most and paid a lot of attention to the orchestra. I was impressed by the fact that it had 4 french horn players!

I enjoyed the ballet very much. It was most definitely worth it to attend. My husband managed to sneak a few photos of the dancers after it ended. These were the main characters.

Wanderlust – Russia: Day 7 of 10

Our first official day in St Petersburg was great! We did not really have a plan and decided to just relax and take it slow at first. It turned out to be quite eventful and we saw a lot of places and buildings that we wanted to see during our time here.

We took a note out of the Eyewitness Travel Guide for Russia and started with a stroll along Nevskiy prospekt (prospekt means avenue). We thought that it would just be a nice walk along the busy street but soon realised that a lot of the big sites are either on or near this particular street. 

St Petersburg has a big amount of interesting and beautitul buildings, monuments and statues. Overall it is much more picturesque and romantic when compared to Moscow. Have a scroll if you are interested:

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First, we saw the Statue of Catherine the Great:

We then saw the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan:

The Admiralty which is situated next to the river, was originally built as a shipyard for Peter the Great’s navy. Today the Naval Engineering School occupies it. The gardens in front of the building proved to be quite slippery.

Just a stone’s throw away from the Admiralty, lies St. Isaac’s Cathedral. It is one of the world’s largest cathedrals and can apparently be seen from across the city.

The Bronze Horseman (a few meters in front of the cathedral) is a tribute to Peter the Great from Catherine the Great. His horse is standing on a snake which symbolises treason. The statue was named after a poem by Alexander Pushkin.

The Bronze Horseman is overlooking the Bolshaya Neva river. It is quite wide but to our surprise, frozen.

Thereafter, we saw the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum:

In front of the abovementioned is a wide open area called the Palace Square. In the middle of this square is the Alexander Column. It is known as the world’s largest free-standing monument.

It was around mid-day by the time that we saw all of the above, so we were pretty hungry. We then found a very nice and quant restaurant. It is called the Biblioteka, which is very close to the word for library in my home language, Afrikaans. Accordingly, it was decorated with books and book cases. The Biblioteka has 3 floors, with floor 1 being the café area, floor 2 the restaurant area and floor 3 the bar area. They had a very nice lunch special. I would definitely recommend a visit to the Biblioteka!

After lunch, we took a detour from the main road and walked for about 10 minutes before stumbling upon the Church on Spilled Blood. It was built in the same place where Tsar Alexander II was assasinated. It looks very similar to St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow..

Right next to the cathedral, is a park called the Mikhaylovskiy Garden. And within the grounds, the Russian Museum can be found.

So, almost by accident, we discovered a lot of St. Petersburg in just one day! I can imagine that the parks, gardens and fountains look spectacular in the summer but it still is a big treat to be able to walk through snow!