We wanted to have a bit of an overview of St Petersburg's main sites on the first day and so booked a walking tour with Urban Adventures walk about tours. It turned out there was just the two of us and our guide Alexander. He was very knowledgeable and had his I Pad with him and when appropriate added extra details with old photographs he had of various tourist sites as we walked by them. We started off in Palace Square, walked past the Hermitage and New Hermitage, across Troitsky Most to Aleksandrovskiy Park, coffee, past the mosque to the Peter and Paul fortress and then caught the Metro at Sportivnaya to Nevsky Prospect and a bit of shopping. Alexander also showed us how to negotiate the metro. All in all a good introduction and for the money good value. A$34.00
At the moment the international airport is very small and the distance from the landing strip to the terminal is about 15 minutes plane drive away. If you want a great view of St Petersburg as you fly in try and sit on the right hand side. You'll only get a view of silos and trees on the left.
The city tour Hop on Hop off exists in Saint Petersburg as well, and it is a good idea if you want to rest your feet and just want to sit and enjoy the beautiful cityscape from above the double-decker.
The price for the city tour is (July 2013) 500 R per adult - 600 R with a canal cruise included.
The ticket is valid for the whole day (12 hours). The full circle takes 2 hours.
The tour starts from Ostrovsky Square (number 1), but you can take the bus from any of the stops along the planned itinerary.
The first tour starts around 9 AM and the last tour stops around 9 PM during the summer season.
It is best to buy the ticket directly from the driver.
ATTENTION: other companies are organizing tours called City Tours as well, and if you buy your ticket from a kiosk you can very well end up in a minibus instead of in the double-decker City Tour bus.
If you want to spend a day walking in nice green meadows with lakes and ponds, wooden areas, sport grounds and plenty of sport activities, then it is a good idea to go visit the islands Krestovsky, Yelagin an Kamennyy.
They are all connected via bridges, so it is easy to walk around all three of them in one day.
We took the metro directly to Krestovsky (metro stop Krestovsky ostrov) and just started walking.
For Yelagin island we had to pay 50 R to cross the bridge because it is a protected area, but it was absolutely worth it! The Kamennyy island is mainly a residential area with lots of big houses hidden behind hedges. There are also some embassies here.
If you want to take a boat trip in Saint Petersburg, you can just walk to Admiralteyskaya embankment, beside the Hermitage and close to the Dvortsoviy (palace) bridge. Here you can buy different tickets for either canal tours or tours on the Neva. The hydrofoil to Peterhof leaves from here as well, and the trip takes only about 30 minutes.
Canal tours are leaving from many other places in the city as well, you can just walk around by the canals intill you bump into canal boats ready to leave.
Aquabuses: Originally there are 4 lines, but only one was operating when I was there: the yellow line travelling from Arsenalnaya embankment to Staraya Derevnya. We were told that the other lines were closed because too expensive to run: the Russians did not use them and the tourists were using them as tourist boats....!!! The price for a full trip was only 100 R and there were only me and two more people, so I understand that they are too expensive to run, really a pity because the trip itself was nice even if the boat was travelling full speed and the "tourists" got only a very quick glimpse of the fast-moving land- and riverscape:-) But, fun it was even when the driver was trying to scare us by driving full speed towards one of the bridges before he cleverly managed to manoeuver around it!
During my stay in Saint Petersburg this summer 2013, I found this very nice excursion company, situated on Nevsky Prospekt (the main street).
They operate from kiosks and they offer trips both Inside and outside Saint Petersburg.
We went to Novgorod and Tsarskoye Selo (St. Catherines palace) with them, and everything was very well organized. We travelled in comfortable air-conditioned coaches.
Most tours are in Russian only, but it made it only more exciting for us, and as long as you can spell yourself through what is written in their leaflet, you can find a lot of interesting tours both Inside and in the outskirts of Saint Petersburg. Many of the guides speak some English, and they were all extremely helpful and nice. A plus point: if you take the tours in Russian they are very cheap compared to tours organized in English, and you get to the same places even if you don't understand everything (or nothing) of what the guides are saying.
Examples of places you can travel to with Eclectica: Peterhof, Kronstadt, Gatchina, Novgorod, Oranienbaum, Strelna, Puskin (St.Catherines palace - Tsarskoye Selo), Vyborg, Staraya Ladoga and of course different sightseeing-tours Inside the city centre of Saint Petersburg.
Our coach had parked and we were walking to the Peter & Paul Cathedral when I saw the lady in the wedding gown. First Russian wedding (or part of) that I had seen, I stayed behind for a few minutes and took a few more photos.
Amazed to see the huge hellicoptor used for the wedding party.
I found this to be interesting, and I guess it would not be the normal everyday wedding transport in St Petersburg.
Walk along the Fontanka River near to the State Hermitage and you will find a boat trip.
It is a nice way to see SPb from a different perspective.. and I recommend doing it if you have spent the morning at The State Hermitage!
The boat I took had running commentary in Russian which I found frustrating because I genuinely wanted to know about some of the places we went past.
It whiled away a couple of hours on a warm, sunny afternoon.
It is also most affordable.
Feel Yourself Russian - as tacky as it sounds - is an amazing show that happens at the Nikolayevsky Palace. It is a Russian folk show and the performers are excellent. We were entertained and enthralled for the entire duration - as were our children. It is loud and lively and there is also a sense of humour that permeates the performance.
An interval gives you a chance to make purchases of cds etc... should you so desire. There are also snacks and complimentary glasses of champagne (don;t expect anything other than sickly sweet liquid!).
The palace is grand with a huge staircase.
The hall that the performance takes place is in a comfortable size.
I think we were the only independent guests. Everybody else arrived by coach with a tour group. Don;t let this put you off. It is REALLY worth going to.
I contacted the company before I set off and they emailed me back easily enough. I had to get my hotel to confirm and when they made the phone call I did not have tickets! I brief argument and I was booked in.
2 adults and 2 children's tickets cost £90
The only taxi I took in SPb was to get to the submarine museum. It just so happened that my taxi driver (whose English was really rather good) had been the Commander of a Black Shark nuclear submarine floating below the Atlantic with misiles aimed to London!!! He was a very interesting man who was happy to tell us some of his stories about the KGB and life in the UUSR etc... he looked back on those good, old halcyon days of Cold War with fond memories!
Anyway, I pointed out a beautiful church. He laughed at me and told me that it is not a church, has never been a church - it was a senior KGB building and the facade is a lie to hide it. He said there are many such buildings scattered around the city.... makes one think.
This one - the church that is not a church, is opposite the submarine.
Closed on Monday's for maintenance, this park is kept spotlessly clean and pristine.
Apparently the gardens were planned to resemble the gardens of Versailles.
There are fountains, trees and statues who, in my opinion, are so well cared for that they look brand, spanking new. I think the Summer Garden would look nice if they allowed it to get a little age or dirt in places... but it is nice to see the garden being tended to by workers in their smart, green, gardening attire. The design is very geometrical with its straight paths leading to wide square areas - perfect for strolling through on a summer's day!
It is free to go into and doesn't really take very long.
Underneath the grass here, the great communists are buried. Mars Fields were once parade grounds for the military but now a pleasant park to the east of the Summer Garden.
There is an eternal flame in the middle remembering the victims of the revolution (1917).
Samblino is a very interesting place... mystical and frightening)))
There are some ways to go there:
1. On weekends - by train from the Moscow railway station (in the center of St-Petersburg) to the station "Sablino". The direction is called "Tosno". And then you should go by bus for some mins to the caves. I don`t remember the number of the bus route, but everybody knows SABLINO caves there...
2. By speciall Sablino caves bus from the metro station "Moskovskaya". They form groups and go according to the timetable so some days before you should call them 320 87 29 and sign up.
3. By car. I kindly advice you to meet good russian friends in Saint-Petersburg and offer them to go together =)
Gostiny Dvor , puede ser el más antiguo Centro Comercial del mundo ?
Desde mediados del siglo XVIII ha sido la Galería Comercial de San Petersburg .
Tiene dos alturas , forma un enorme cuadrado, rodeado de 4 calles , una estación de Metro y en él hay trescientas tiendas en las que puedes encontrar de todo
Está rodeado de una arcada y para que te hagas una idea si das una vuelta completa al edificio habrás andado un kilómetro
Han sabido adaptarse a los tiempos y hoy se pueden encontrar aquí las grandes marcas internacionales
Can Gostiny Dvor, be the first Mall of the world?
From middle of the 18th century it has been San Petersburg's Shopping Centre. It has two heights , square shape , surrounded by four streets , a Metro station and on it there are three hundred shops in which you can find everything
It is surrounded by an arch way and if you walk around you must know that you have walked 1 kilometre
They have adapted to the times and today you can find here most of the big international brands
I was able to have a quick look at the many market stalls near the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood.
The stalls were chocked full of souvenirs the same as the shops, only at a much better price.
The stall holder will drop their price if they think you are not going to buy, this happened to me, I didn't even ask!
As for quality, I really don't know if its any better or worse, but the choice is good!
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