Two Days in Saint Petersburg
Visiting Saint Petersburg in the winter definitely has its perks and, despite the bitterly cold temperatures is a beautiful city. I spent two days there with my kiwi friend Casey.
Door to door it took four hours to get from Moscow to Saint Petersburg by airplane (and was cheaper than the train!). Arriving at the Cuba Hostel at 10 30am we were able to check in early and drop our bags off. We had booked a 12 noon walking tour with FeelTour (a free walking tour provider). After our coffee to wake up we pitched up at the meeting point and sadly no one was there to meet us, we telephone them and emailed but no response. Determined not to let this set us back we found a nearby tourist information office, were given a map and planned our own tour.
Walking along the Nevsky Prospect our first sight was the Kazan Cathedral. It was huge, spectacular and beautiful. We ventured inside, there was a huge line of people waiting for their turn to pray to one of the saints. Other people were making their way around the other Saints and praying as they went. Candles were burning all around and the architecture was incredible.
Next stop the Italian Bridge and the Saviour on the Spilled Blood. This Cathedral is absolutely spectacular, it might have been under repair but it is still stunning. We walked around, admired and took plenty of photos.
Having spent a few hours outside in -15 we were totally frozen and in desperate need of warming up.
After a tasty lunch in Myasorubka we headed towards the Mikhailovsky Garden. A pretty garden next to the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Walking past and admiring the wonderful architecture of the Russian Museum and Saint Michaels Castle we eventually made it to the Summer Garden. This garden is still beautiful in the middle of winter, some of the trees had been boxed up to protect them from the cold weather. I can only imagine that in the summer this place is thriving!
A slightly quirky sight next; The Mosaic Garden. It was a little bit tricky to find, particularly as lots of it was covered in snow!
Having never been to a ballet before we decided that whilst in Saint Petersburg we would give it ago. The Nutcracker was on at the Hermitage Theatre. We didn’t realise the seating was a first come first serve basis, so arriving 5 minutes late meant our view was restricted. Being tired from the early start and long day I prayed that Casey wouldn’t notice my eyes closing and my mini naps during the first half. When the interval came around, coffee was suggested. I jumped at the chance. By the time the second half was on I felt wide away and we managed to get better seats. It was just amazing, beautiful dancers telling a wonderful story. The entire Ballet was 1.5 hours and just magical!
First stop; breakfast at Zoom Café, a quirky café located a stones throw from the hostel.
After breakfast we walk up along Gorokhovaya St and end up at Admiralteystvo, a grand historical building that is currently the headquarters of the Russian Navy. A beautiful yellow building with wonderful statues dotted along the top.
Opposite is Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. Rather than going inside we chose to pay £3 and climb 262 steps up to the colonnade where we had a beautiful 360 degree view of the city. This was a highlight for me and I highly recommend it.
Hot chocolate in hand we headed towards Palace Square and The Hermitage Museum, It was relatively quiet with only a handful of tourists braving the chilly temperatures. We admired the wonderful architecture and took far too many photos, sadly we didn’t have time to go inside.
Feeling the cold we ordered a Yandex taxi to take us to the other side of the Neva River to see the Peter and Paul Fortress. It is a small island that almost feels like it could be self contained little village. A cathedral, several museums and a shop are on this small site. Here we also ventured on to the frozen river!
Aware of the time we chose to head back to the hostel, but not before stopping off at the roof top bar for some delicious cocktails opposite the Kazan Cathedral.
With the sun setting it was time to collect our bags and head to the airport. Saint Petersburg was absolutely magical and is a beautiful city. It was small enough to walk nearly everywhere and with every turn there was something amazing to see. It was bitterly cold, but with plenty of coffee shops to warm up in this didn’t bother us. Also with the cold temperatures there were very few tourists. Which made wandering around this historical city an absolute pleasure.