if you’ve read my previous post then you’ll know that I recently went to St Petersburg. It was a very educational trip, I didn’t really have much expectation nor has much idea on what’s there to see other than I really wanted to visit the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood!!! So I pretty much left it to my friend to organise!!! Which she did a pretty good job….so here’s what we got up to.
Hotel, Nevsky Prospekt, Kazan Cathedral, Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood, Mariinsky Theatre, dinner at The Idiot.
Firstly I found it very convenient and cheap to get from the airport to the city centre. There were a few ways you can do this and this link has some good info.
1) Taxi, as soon as you leave the baggage claim exit you’ll see a desk where you can book a taxi. Make sure you have the address in Russian to make sure you get to the right place!!! Once you’ve paid (card or cash) then you’ll be given a receipt with the taxi’s registration plate number and told where to find the car. You then give this to the driver. This is the way we chose as the price worked out to be only approx £11 and we would have had to change…. There’s also some taxi drivers outside the airport touting for business but this is not recommended.
2) Metro, in order to get to the metro station you need to get a bus (more a minivan) where you pay the driver once you get on. It is not the most comfortable but it’s cheap. We didn’t do this but saw the minivans during our stay. Once you get to the Moskovskaya station, you can change into Metro for your nearest station. This would not be a great option if you’re carrying a lot of luggage or you have to make a few changes but it is the cheapest option. Here’s a pic of the minivan for you!
3) Airport Express, which we didn’t see but according to the link above is more comfortable and ok cost especially if you were travelling on your own and did not want to have to make too many changes.
We were staying at Renaissance St. Petersburg Baltic Hotel and I would definitely recommend this hotel. The location is fantastic and you can walk to most of the sites within 10mins and a metro station to get further afield. In fact we were only a few steps away from St Issac’s Cathedral where Peter the Great and Catherine I got married!!! The staffs were very friendly and quick to give directions/suggestions. The hotel website was also very helpful especially the Navigator page where they had good restaurant recommendations.
As we arrived in the afternoon we decided to visit some of the sites that was closest to the hotel. We wondered towards the most famous street in SPB – Nevsky Prospekt, this is actually a bit like Oxford St and is constantly full of people!!! As we walked along we spotted many beautiful buildings and one of these were the Kazan Cathedral. This was not our list at all but we were drew towards it by its size and Roman columns!!! It was as expected very gold inside….
After our little detour we carried on to what I had christened by then as my church – Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This was as I already mentioned my top must see sight and I’m glad to report that I was not disappointed at all!!! The church looked so amazing from the outside and was equally decadent inside. In facts the interi is mostly covered by intricate mosaic works that from afar looked like beautiful paintings!!! The church is on a side street/canal just off Nevsky Prospekt and hard to miss. Leading to the church there are a whole row of souvenir stalls that pretty much all sell the same things!!! Magnets, Russian dolls, faux Fabergé eggs etc… There were also a few snacks stall where we grab a quick but before our visit.
As we had just had a snack we were not ready for dinner so we decided to have a walk around and towards the Mariinsky Theatre. This theatre is known as the home of Russian Ballet and we were keen to see if we can get tickets for a show whilst we were in SPB. Unfortunately as we were not as organised as we should have been so this was a thought that only occurred when we were on the flight!!! However we thought we’d try our luck anyway. Well our luck was out as there was no seats available on any of the 3 nights we were there!!! So if you do want to see a show I would suggest you book ahead from here.
One of the thing you might not be aware of (we were not neither)is that SPB is actually a bit like Amsterdam and Venice and is surrounded by water and canals runing all through the city. There are also numerous pretty bridges for that perfect photo moment. There are also plenty of restaurants which line the canal side. The place we have chosen for dinner is one such restaurants.
Idiot Cafe, this is a restaurant inspired by Russian author Dostoyevsky’s book The Idiot. It is a favourite of expat and when we were there this was pretty evident. The decorations were quirky and reminiscent of someone’s living room. It’s a very comfortable place and we ate dinner sitting on sofas. The food was good and the evening definitely started with a bang when we were given a complimentary shot of vodka!!! The prices were a little expensive especially considering this was the most expensive meal we’ve had in SPB!!!
We headed back to the hotel after dinner for some rest and more planning for our next few days as we wanted to cramp in as much as possible.