Personal Observations, Saint Petersburg
Favorite thing: The Russian currency is rubles which are broken down into kopeks. The exchange rate for rubles to US $ or Euros is very good, however you will find that many shops that tourists frequent charge either US $ or Euros for their goods. This is pretty much a rip-off because you can likely get the same items at a less touristy shop for about half the price. However, many museums and attractions also charge admission in US $, and there is nothing you can do about it. If you want to exchange US $ or Euros into rubles there are many places you can do so, but you will need to show your passport.
There are some really pretty and friendly cats in this city. Sometimes they come right up to you and most of them are very dusty and don't look very white anymore. But there are some real gems among them. Some of them belong to someone and others just get feed by passerbys. I discovered these beauties when I took a walk with local member yos_moes.
This also applies to dogs, which can roam the streets in packs. Luckily they have always been friendly.
It was quite interesting to see the plaques and relief sculptures still in place around St. Petersburg. I saw these vestiges on several bridges and buildings while touring on the bus and was curious about how the Russian people felt about Lenin today. We asked this question of our tour guide, and she replied strangely we thought. She said, "We don't think anything about him. That's in the past. He's part of history that's all." It almost seemed like an answer that a Russian might given when in fear of uttering the wrong answer during the Soviet era, or have I seen too many movies.
Other likenesses of Lenin have been torn down or removed in Moscow I thought, but perhaps St. Petersburg would like to remember the man who once lent his name to this city!
Sometime after the Revolution of 1917, the city's name was changed to Leningrad.
Favorite thing: You can record your digital pictures onto CD\DVD in "Yarkii Mir": Nevsky, 6 (metro "Nevsky prospect"), Nevsky, 148 (metro "Ploschad Alexander Nevsky"), Kamennoostrovsky, 4 or 55 (metro "Petrogradskaya") or in State Hermitage. Other photo, digital and video servises. Their site http://www.ym.spb.su/index.php?qw=shops_v is only in Russian.
When you are here in St. Petersburg, you will feel more home if you get some of your countrymen of friends here. To get friendly help for you, when you are a new commer, you can visit the ISA's website at http://isaspb.narod.ru and they have a yahoo group where you can post message and you will get the reply. I got my country people and was happy to see them. So, I travelled as a local, cheap and comfortable. try this!
Fondest memory: Hermitage, Nevsky, International environs, Local cafes (Typical russian!).
I honor the International Students Association there. Architecture and Girls.:)O
As is the case all over the world, McDonald's has free, clean bathrooms in multiple locations throughout St. Petersburg much better than stopping by the 7 ruble portapotties that you can find scattered throughout the city.
If your conscious bothers you about using the bathrooms and not patronizing the restaurant, order an ice cream cone for 6 rubles, it's still cheaper than the portapotties and you got an ice cream cone to boot :-)
You can get around by train, metro or buses - even small mini bus in SPburg.
We took the metro to move around; it costs a mere 8 rubles per ride, does not matter how far as it is based on per entrance. They uses a token for the ride, and you can buy a bagful to avoid having to queue for tokens.
SPb metro system is much smaller, and less touristy s in Moscow. It has only 4 lines opposed to 11 in Moscow.
Of the 4 lines, the red line, Line 1 is the most impressive and interesting to look at. There are nice stained glass decoration, or mosaics murals, sculptures that reflects the area...say it is near the se, you will see boat patterns etc
Whatever it is one thing for sure you will notice how deep underground the Russians metro are. And how decorative they are. It is a good place to keep warm during the harsh winter as well.
The trains arrive every 2 odd minutes.
When you are waiting for the train, you can see two digital clocks , one to show the time and the other tells you when did the last train just left.
Favorite thing: Everybody (well, almost!) likes receiving letters - I certainly do, though there are other, more modern and efficient means of communication - e-mail, phone, and such like. However, if you simply like getting letters or if you need, say, the originals or paper copies of some documents sent to you while you are on the move, you can use the poste restante service. Your best bet is to use the American Express service, which is available for free to clients - you should hold either their card or travellers cheques. They are reliable and present in all major cities.
Returned back to Pieter after spending weekend out at Pskov and Puskin etc. Unfortunately missed the train back to Petrozavodsk. Did not fancy the idea of trying to get some accomodation. So we decided to walk around the city for several hours till the next train. But first a meal in a 24 hour cafe, wonderful food, we killed an hour or two just chatting, laughing , joking. Then Midnight came and it was my birthday. Walking down the streets of Pieter hand in hand, all the people around us, the buildings going past. Window shopping, Then on to the Rock and Roll club where we spent several hours, dancing, drinking, chatting. Afterwards onto the train station Ladoshskaya to catch the train. We met a friend who was going out to Germany before we boarded our train Home. Travelled 1st Class because we needed the rest LOL, although we could not afford the bed linen LOL but at 100 pyb no chance.
Fondest memory: Hell i miss everything about this city, it has so much there it is hard to single anything out, the shops, the food, the customs, the art work, the buildings, the way of life. The sheer zest of the city even at ungodly hours of the morning.
Favorite thing: The second of St. Petersburg's great squares is named for the ill-fated Decembrists' revolt. On December 14, 1825, a small group of reformist officers entered the square at the head of their troops in order to prevent the Senate from ratifying the accession of Nicholas I. Unbeknownst to the officers, the Senators had anticipated such an action and had already taken their oath to the Tsar in secret. Although the reformers thus found no Senators in the adjacent Senate building, they did run into several thousand loyalist troops who had been called into action by the Tsar. The rebels were attacked, captured, and soon afterward executed or exiled.
Favorite thing: St. Petersburg is a city of haunting magnificence, an imperial capital that seems to have been built as a monument to its own passing. Less than three centuries have passed since Peter the Great began building his grand city on the Gulf of Finland, but it is difficult to visit its vast, crystalline squares and palaces without feeling the enormity of the gulf that separates that time from our own. All of which, of course, makes St. Petersburg more evocative of Russia's past than any place except perhaps the Moscow Kremlin. This impression is only deepened by a more familiar acquaintance. The enigmatic homeliness of Peter's cottage and the city's placid canals may contrast with the brooding grandeur of the Winter Palace, but they share with it a graceful stillness that is difficult to forget.
Didn't know where to put this information so I decided to present it here.
It was a clear day when we arrived St. Petersburg but we noticed a kind of yellow blanket over the city. This reminded me on the time in the GDR. In winter we often had smog in town. And indeed, it was smog. The air smelled like sulfur. The reason for taht is surely the individual traffic and the power plants which are located in the city centre.
Favorite thing: We were told that we need to register with the Russian authorities within X number of days of arriving. I think it was either 2 or 3 days. We first went to St. P and then on to Moscow so we would have to register in St. P. We checked with the Swedish consulate and the American Consulate in St.P and got conflicting answers. A Russian girl at the Swedish consulate said not to worry about it and not do it while the American embassy said to do it. We walked to the American embassy in St. P and left our passports and other information there and they helped us register that same day. I do not know the rules but be aware of this potential issue. We were told that sometimes there are problems leaving the country if you have not registered.
"Il est vrai, Monsieur, qu'il était réservé à Catherine II de rendre, par un monument éternel, le nom de Pierre le Grand durable dans les cœurs de tous mes compatriotes. Il est vrai aussi qu'il était de même réservé à Monsieur Diderot d'y coopérer en fournissant à la Russie l'homme capable de seconder ses vues.» Ces mots adressés à Diderot par le général Betzky, le Directeur des Bâtiments de Catherine II, évoquent les principaux personnages ayant participé à la création du Cavalier de bronze. L'homme «capable de seconder les vues de l'impératrice», sera Etienne-Maurice Falconet. «Ami de cœur» de Diderot, qui l'a recommandé à Catherine II en le présentant comme «un homme qui pense et sent grandement», Falconet avait en effet besoin d'un grand pays, d'un grand projet et d'un grand mécène. Sculpteur réputé, élève de Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, protégé de Madame de Pompadour et travaillant à l'atelier de la Manufacture de Sèvres, cet homme, à cinquante ans, décide de «quitter son paisible foyer, la maison qu'il a lui-même bâtie, les arbres qu'il a plantés, le jardin qu'il cultivait de ses propres mains» pour aller à Saint-Pétersbourg. En 1766, par une très belle journée d'août, accompagné d'un de ses ouvriers ainsi que d'une jeune personne de 18 ans, Falconet quitte la France sur un bateau au nom prédestiné l'Aventure. La jeune personne en question s'appelait Marie-Anne Collot: c'était l'une des élèves de Lemoyne que Diderot appelait «mademoiselle Victoire».
Fondest memory: " It is true, Mr., that it was reserved to Catherine II to return, by an eternal monument, Pierre the Big's name lasting in the cœurses of all my compatriots. It is also true that it was reserved to Mr. Diderot in the same way to cooperate there while providing to Russia the man capable to assist its views.» These words addressed to Diderot by the general Betzky, the Director of the Buildings of Catherine II, evoke the main characters having participated to the creation of the bronze Rider. The man «capable to assist the empress's views», will be Etienne-Maurice Falconet. «Friend of heart» of Diderot, that recommended it to Catherine II while presenting it as «a man who thinks and feels greatly», Falconet needed a big country, a big project and a big sponsor indeed. Well-known sculptor, pupil of John the Baptist Lemoyne, protected of Mrs. of Pompadour and working in the shop of the Factory of Sevres, this man, at fifty years, decide of «to leave his restful home, the house that he has himself built, the trees that he planted, the garden that he cultivated his own hands» to go to Saint-Petersburg. In 1766, by a very beautiful day of August, accompanied by one of his workers as well as a young person of 18 years, Falconet leaves France on a boat to the name predestined the adventure. The young person in question was called Marie - Anne Collot: it was one of the pupils of Lemoyne that Diderot called «miss Victory».
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.