Saint Petersburg

In January 2022 I went to Saint Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) for 4 days. Since it was winter and I had less days than in Moscow (and a few minor factors) it was a bit less enjoyable, but I still totally loved the city and had a great time there. This page is a little log and a photo album telling you, lovely reader, how it all went.

Looking back (and as a warning, too), I don't think I made any good photos during this trip.

all photos taken on Canon PowerShot SX500, iPhone SE (2016) and Pentax Espio 60S with Kodak Portra 400 film
while I tried my best to make this work on phones, I still highly recommend reading this on PC
scroll with shift+scroll wheel

The adventure began right after I left home and ordered taxi to the airport. I always set the pick-up point to the nearest parking spot on the side of the road instead of making the driver drive into the apartment block's courtyard. As usual, in the app I use, when your order is picked up by a driver, you can see the car model and the license plate number.
So a few minutes pass, and I see the car driving into the courtyard. I run to the car, and I see it parking in one of the places where the residents usually park. So I open the car's door, get inside, say "Good morning"... and that's when I start realizing that something is wrong because, after a few seconds of silence, the lady on the driver's seat turns around, looks at me scared and says "Good morning... *a little pause* This is not a taxi". Stumbled, I begin thorougly apoligizing, but she turned out to be an understanding person.
As I left the car, I double-checked it, and it turned out that it's exactly the same model and color as my actual ride, but the number plate is off by one letter. Due to sheer coincidence, this very car, at that very time, was just there and nowhere else. I still both physically cringe and laugh at the same time when I think of it.

The view from the plane before take-off and after landing.

I had some free time before checking in at my hotel, so I took a walk around.
Here are prime examples of what the city looks like; not just in the city center but even outside of it. The city actually looks rather homogenous; a feature not often seen in Russian cities. The outskirts, of course, are not like this and have typical Russian commieblocks/Putinblocks, but they won't be covered here.
It was cold, and the Neva river had a thick layer of ice.

Before checking in, I went to a convenience store to buy myself a lunch to eat in my room. I bought it and headed for the hotel, but on my way there I realized that I forgot to buy a set of forks. I didn't want to go back, but the only shop that was on the way to the hotel was a small 24 hours store. It only had a complete set of plastic utencils (not just forks but spons, cups and plates as well), but I had no other choice.

The room itself was small, and the view, while quite atmospheric, was rather dull. Still, it was a nice tidy room, and it was dirt cheap too; I still don't understand why is that hotel so cheap.

Having taken a nap, I went for my first walk (it was rather dark already).
Here you can see why Saint Petersburg is called "the cultural capital". This is the line to the Faberge museum. The crowd was huge.

There was a lot of illumination, and I've greatly enjoyed it.

That evening I was just taking random turns without even looking at the map.

This pedestrian street near the centre was totally packed. The line to a tiny Russian donuts cafe (such cafes are iconic for Saint Petersburg) was enormous.

The party's over.

The area around the Hermitage Museum. There are lots of bridges and canals in the city, hence the "Venice of the North" nickname.

To be honest, the first day of the trip wasn't exactly the best day of my life. It was dark, as I left the hotel quite late, the sidewalks were covered with bare ice; I saw people falling, and I realized that it was a matter of time until I fall, and I did fall, and lemme tell you it did hurt. I have also stepped right into a very deep puddle. So, it's dark, cold, my butt hurts from falling and my left foot is wet... Yeah.
But then I found a cafe, ate chicket filet with vegetables, drank an Irish coffee, and my mood instantly improved, as if all the problems were gone.
With my belly full, I returned to the hotel, inserted the contactless card to gain power and went to sleep.

For the second day, I decided to tour the most famous places of the city. I started at the very beginning of the Nevsky Prospect, the high street of the city.

Despite it being dark and snowing, it felt really nice.

Guy Standing.

Saint Petersburg is famous for it's courtyards. Sadly, these days most of them are behind locked gates.

The city.

Since it's the cultural capital, you'd expect there being a lot of bookstores, and indeed there are. This one is located in a 10 seconds walk from another one (of the same chain!)

I bet those canals look wonderful in summer. Would've been even better if there were more trees along them.

This here is the Singer House, which is the home of a great bookstore named "The House of the Book".
In fact, there are a lot of both small and not-so-small cozy stores in Saint Petersburg; in Moscow there are mostly large chain stores and I didn't really feel like buying much; here, I regretted coming with only a backpack.

After a bit of wandering, which suddenly included seeing a Swedish lutheran church...

... as well as simply appeciating the beauty of the city ...

... I made it back to the Dvortsovaya Square, which is where the Hermitage museum is, and which it, perhaps, the city's main square. In the middle there stood a wonderfully decorated spruce.

Around the square there is Stuff. The seconds photo really makes the place look straight out of 00s Russian crime series.
The carved sign is interesting; I was unable to figure out what does the first row mean.

Rawr! There is quite a bunch of lion statues around the city. This particular lion looks so kind!
On the second photo is the Saint Isaac's Cathedral with it's very own snow guard.

This iconic statue of Peter the Great, widely known as The Bronze Horseman, was undergoing reconstruction.

I took the metro to the northern part of the city to see the remaining sights. Here's a statue of Mr. Lenin. On the map it's named "Lenin on an armoured car", and I expected that it would be a full armoured car, but it was just the turret.

Very important: I made a snowman on a sidewalk's handrail.

A bit of city scenery. I think you can already see how the city has a pretty well-defined style without too much architectural eyesores.

Aurora cruiser; the ship that started the October Revolution. I absolutely don't like military stuff, but pre-WWII warships are an exception. There was a large line outside the ship, as it can't host a lot of visitors simultaneously. It was only my second day in Saint Petersburg, yet 5 minutes after walking away from Aurora I was giving directions to the ship to another tourist as if I was a local.
Neva covered with a pristine layer of snow... There's something charming about it.

A very interesting occurence happened near this ice hole. The canals have lots of staircases that lead to the water. I went down one of those to take a look at this hole; there was a lady standing nearby, but I didn't pay any attention to her. I took this photo of the hole and was about to leave when the lady approached me and said, "Can I ask you a favor?".
I agreed, and she went on, "I want you to take a photo of me, but a very specific one. Do you know this picture on the internet where a person's lying down on a staircase, and the text says "when you tripped and fell down, but you realize that it's your only chance to lay down and relax"? Well, I want a picture like that. I know it's gonna be hard, but *points at my camera* I'm sure that you can handle it". Sure I can!
Took a few pics of her lying on snow-covered stairs, she liked them. As I was about to leave, she invited me to join her. I laid next to her and stared into the evergray Petersburgian sky. "Such an interesting sky, isn't it?", she says. "Yeah", I reply, "you can see a slight gradient here and there". She wished me luck and left. That was this trip's only conversation with someone who's not a hotel or shop clerk.
Next stop, the Peter and Paul Fortress, guarded by a gang of snowmen in front. This is the fortress that started the city. I didn't go inside, but I took a walk around it. Sometimes it was had to see where the shore ended and the ice started. The shore of the fortress' island gives you a nice view on the city.

pls no step on grass

Tram street! Stood there waiting for this tram under the snow for perhaps 10 minutes.

A ride on the metro took me back to the center. This place is informally known as "The 5 Corners", because that's where 5 streets intersect.

Walked in the dark for a bit before going back to the hotel to watch the 4 Hills Tournament and finish the day.

The third day was much more pleasant because it was surprisingly clear, something that I didn't expect from the city's stereotypical weather. For that day, I've decided to visit some more "modern" places of the city. The day began at the Vasilyevsky Island.

The northern part of the island features the Rostral Columns, which can be seen from a good part of the city.

Even though it was very cold, with the low of -15, it was really nice.

I took the trolleybus to the southern part of the island, where my main destination, the Sevkabel Port is located. Sevkabel Port is a part of an old seaport made into a public art space. Some of the docks and hangars have been opened up. There was an exhibition in one of the hangars that day, but the opening hours were really late, so I couldn't visit it. Still, the place is amazing.

It was really damn cold, but I was just having fun; not even the camera's battery that decided to die on me did not ruin my mood in the slightest.
What you can see on the photos is not the sunrise; that's actually what the sun's highest position was.

I took the tram from the southern tip of Vasilyevsky Island back to the center; my next destination was the New Holland park.
Located in the very center of the city, New Holland is an 18th century fortress that was occupied by the military up until recently when it was turned into a public park.

I bet the place looks even better in summer.
The round building in the center of the park houses a bunch of very cool stores; bought a book about Edward Hopper there.

After New Holland I went to another hip place; I didn't end up taking any photos there, however. The place is a loft project named "The Floors"; a former 7-floors bread factory near the city center turned into a hip place with a ton of small stores and cafes. The halls and stairwells there are narrow and there are a lot of bright and colorful people there. I felt really uncomfortable there, so I left and spent the rest of the day just wandering.
I got back to the hotel; took a nap and then went for a walk again. It was dark; I wasn't thinking of anything. Just pure walking through the night city.
The last day... Again, doing what I do best - walking, walking, walking.

A rare example of Soviet architecture in the city center, and a monument to Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of the independent Greece.

Time to leave... The area around the bus stop that hosts buses leaving for the airport.

Saying my last goodbyes to Saint Petersburg.

So, the conclusion, huh... As much as I hate to admit it, I don't think I've enjoyed this trip as much as I enjoyed the trip to Moscow. Maybe that's because the Moscow trip was in the summer, and this one was in the winter. It really matters for me; gray and cold weather greatly affects my overall mood. Maybe that's because in Moscow I felt true freedom for the first time because it was my first trip of my own, and I was looking for the same feeling during this trip, knowing deep inside that it cannot be repeated. As you can see, I haven't visited too many places.
Still, I think it was a good trip. I loved the city, and I'm sure it looks wonderful during spring and summer. It's quite different from Moscow; it feels more like Russia, in the best way possible. Even if I haven't done everything I wanted to do (I didn't get to meet a friend who's moved to Saint Petersburg, for example), I've still had a good time, and I certainly hope to visit this city again sometime. Preferably when it's warm. :)

Thank you very much for reading this. I know it turned out rather boring, but then again, that's just the kind of person I am. Sorry if you didn't like it. :)

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