Our first destination in Russia and also in our 7 month journey was Saint Petersburg called Venice of the North, in fact inspired by Amsterdam. Monumental palaces and magnificent cathedrals of the historic center broken up by dozens of canals and bridges, bustling streets with artists and tour operators on every corner, all these in the XVIII century atmosphere became our home for 4 days.
We booked a hostel at the end of the 4,5 km long main avenue Nevsky Prospekt and right next to the train station, the perfect spot for everyday walks in the city.
Hostel was mostly occupied by sociable Russians, who once found out that it’s our first day in their country, decided to gift us the ticket for a cruise on Neva River on the boat where they have been working. We nearly missed the cruise due to the traffic jam caused by the Night Wolves coming back from Berlin for 9th of May followed by hundreds of motorcycles.
Victory Day is solemnly celebrated, but already before the streets are generously decorated and the city centre gets blocked due to the parade rehearsals. If you ask the locals, where is the best spot to watch 9th of May parade, they will advise you couch in front of tv … From our own experience it makes a lot of sense until you climb up the roof or tree to be able to see anything. On that day there were many concerts on the Palace Square followed by the fabulous firework show from the Peter and Paul Fortress side (stay next to the Palace Bridge – Dvortsoviy Most for the best view).
If you want to know more about the city, start from the Free Walking Tour for the main attractions, brief history and local tips. Don’t miss to visit the Hermitage Museum if you like art, climb the tower of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral for a superb view, check out the colorful comic-like interiors of the Church on the Spilled Blood, catch the sunshine at the beach of Peter and Paul Fortress, get lost in the crowded Nevsky Prospekt and use the Metro to admire the elegant stations – but before embrace yourself with patience as it’s one of the deepest metro systems in the world so it will cost you a bit of additional time of your life.
Just get yourself a pair of comfy shoes and keep your head up. Enjoy!