St. Petersburg – Home of the Tsars!
Victoria University Travel Blogger Ryan shares a video and dairy entry from his time in St. Petersburg, the home of the Tsars!
After an overnight train from Moscow we were all really excited to have arrived into St. Petersburg and were met by the friendly face of our Honcho Vladamir – a top bloke who was super keen to show us the best of his city! After settling into the hostel, Vladamir took us out to his favourite restaurant and we enjoyed a feast of delicious Russian foods including soups, salads, fish, pancakes, beef and dumplings. We then decided to visit a few bars before crashing pretty early, ready for a big day of sightseeing the following morning!
Myself and a few other travellers set off nice and early to visit the Hermitage Museum, the former Winter Palace of the Russian royal family. Nowadays, this incredibly grand and opulent building houses over three million collections of art and cultural relics in just over three hundred rooms! I found the architecture of the building to be the most impressive aspect of the museum – a sight that has to be seen to be believed! Another really interesting feature of The Hermitage was that not one of the three hundred rooms looked the same, from the floors to the ceilings and chandeliers, every room had its own identity which just made it all the more special and interesting to walk through. A quick note to all art buffs out there, this place has it all – from Italian renaissance art to Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh – expect to be wowed by the diverse collection of works!
After spending a few hours looking through what was only a small section of the three million piece collection at The Hermitage Museum, we were off to marvel at St Isaac’s Cathedral and climb the stairs to get a spectacular view of the St. Petersburg skyline. I likened the St. Petersburg skyline to being very similar to that of Paris – as the building heights in the city are limited to the height of the Winter Palace, there are no skyscrapers or large structures threatening the impressive 360 degree view of the city.
Following a brief history lesson from our well informed Honcho, Vladimir, we decided to head to a local restaurant for some savoury pancakes called ‘Blini’ – these tasted amazing with sour cream! With full stomachs we slowly strolled back to the hostel and made a detour through the city in effort to soak in some more of St. Petersburg’s incredible architecture. I have to say some of the buildings in this city are amongst the most beautiful that I have seen elsewhere in the world, I was certainly not expecting St. Petersburg to have such a European feel to it with little café’s nestled alongside the cobble stone roads. I had imaged St. Petersburg would have a stronger ‘Soviet’ feel to it and was really surprised at how beautiful the city truly is. Walking through St. Petersburg you get a real idea of Russian history – from the times of the Tsar’s to the rise of the USSR, Russia’s rich past remains written in the architecture of the city.
After a day of sightseeing, Vladamir took us to a great Georgian restaurant close to the hostel where everyone was delighted with their meals before starting a little bar crawl down the street. One of the more memorable bars was a laundry bar called Café Stirka, where you could do your washing at whilst having a beer! It’s apparently really well known amongst the locals of Petersburg and it was really quite weird to see university students sitting around waiting for their clothes to come out of the dryer whilst sipping on a beer.
The night turned out to be massive for everyone as it was the last official day of the tour and when Vladamir, our Honcho, got involved no one hesitated to follow suit! All in all St. Petersburg was a mind blowing city with a bit of everything for anyone and definitely deserves it UNESCO world heritage listing title – I will miss this city!