Don't go on Your Own if if don't know Russian!
St. Petersburg is a wonderful city, but I suggest that you go there either with a group, or go on your own if you know Russian.
There are no English signs and it is really difficult to move around if you are on your own.
The alternative is to visit St. Petersburg and stay with your Russian friend.
This is the best.
Adapting to Snow and Ice
Some of my funniest moments I had initially were trying to hurry along ice encrusted streets in reeboks when I wasn't used to those sort of conditions - trying to stay upright taught me to slow down in a real hurry, also getting lost in my hotel trying to get from reception to where they kept my passport and change money. The hotel I was in was huge and were two interconnecting buildings in a 'L' shape. It was moderately priced and comfortable.
The thin sheets and comforter only went to the edge of the mattress like a table runner and there was only one large feather pillow on the double bed. The towels were like tea towels, the shower (with no curtain) was a piece of antiquity which fortunately worked but hey, I got a cable channel in English on the t.v. which at the times I was looking, seemed to be mainly online shopping shows.
There was heating in my room but thank goodness I had been persuaded to take a friends 'hottie' on the trip with me. But I'm not complaining, I enjoyed the very different experience. While I found the people abrupt in manner, they were actually very nice when you got talking to them and they actually lead a pretty hard life. Helen was my local tour guide for a couple of days. A tall lady, dyed strawberry blonde hair and a little overdone with the makeup but very good with her English. This was the view from my hotel.
While in St Petersburg we went to see a Folklorick show. This was truely stunning and I really enjoyed this. This show was done exclusively for the passengers on our ship but you can arrange to go as individual on other evenings. This show was traditional russian music and Dance and the costumes were truely stunning
Don't forget to pack....
Women should pack a scarf to cover their heads when entering any religious buildings. While this is not mandatory in most places, it is important to respect other cultures when travelling.
Comfortable shoes are always a good idea when site-seeing....we always seem to walk for hours, and wouldn't want a trip ruined by sore feet or blisters! There didn't appear to be a shortage of chemists or shops selling the basics, but there was the language issue to deal with....so I would recommend bringing everything you may need with you. Plus, nothing is cheap in Russia. St Petersburg is filled with amazing photo opportunities...so make sure you pack more films/cards/batteries than you think you will need....nothing worse than flat batteries at the wrong moment. Alex also packed his tripod, which is particularly good for those night shots of things like the Church on Spilled Blood. Ensure you pack a good Russian to English (or whatever your language) phrase book, which shows not only translations, but also the words in cyrillic letters. It can be slow going working out what things say in Russian...and helps if your husband is half Russian and can already read some of it
Trip to Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin)
The Pushkin town Tsarskoye Selo is home to two palaces and lovely parks with small lakes.
The baroque Catherine's Palace is famous for the Amber Room which disappeared mysteriously during WWII when the palace was almost totally destroyed.
Tsarskoye Selo is located about 25 km south of St. Petersburg. I went to Tsarskoye Selo with VT member yumyum by public transport.
We took a marshrutka from Moskovskaya Metro, from where several marshrutkas leave in this direction. Another option is to take a train from Vitebsky Station to Detskoe Selo Station.