Family photo across the Neva River from Peter and Paul Fortress
Well I am quite behind on blogging about our Baltic Adventures, but here I am. We'll see if I can remember how things went almost nine months ago.
We arrived into St. Petersburg in the early afternoon. After negotiating for a taxi we found our way to our hostel. We stayed at Hostel Club Chao Mama and it was so nice for a hostel. The only drawback was that we had to walk up two long flights of stairs, which was quite an ordeal with our 1, 3, and 5-year olds, 2 carry-ons, stroller, and duffle bag. But our room was big and beautiful and the girls loved the bunk beds. We made them sleep on bottom and while they were so bummed about that, we were very glad when Noel rolled out of the bed in the middle of the night that we had followed our gut and made them sleep on bottom!
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Same church, different angle.
I don't remember the exact order of things...we may have made everyone lay down for a bit, but I think we hit to the streets pretty quickly. We walked from our hostel up into the main area of town and grabbed a bite to eat. It was a relief to be back where we could afford to eat out! We ordered burgers and sandwiches and tons of french fries. Then we headed back down the way we had come and got seats on a tour of the canals. Shannon had been to St. Petersburg before and it was something he highly recommended, especially since we only really had about 24 hours there. He said we'd be able to see all the main stuff this way and not have to walk everywhere. It was a good decision.
St. Petersburg is beautiful. It does not feel like Russia one little bit. It reminded me of Western Europe, of Italy, of the coastal cities in Poland, of Maribor, Slovenia. Not Russia. Clean, gorgeous, fun restaurants and cafes everywhere, etc. I'm so glad we went for the day.
St. Issac's Cathedral
Anichkov Bridge and Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace
After our tour of the canals we headed back to the hostel, but not before stopping to buy some snacks, water, and ice cream. We got settled for the night and after what was not a great night's sleep (something about five people in a hotel room) we got up and headed out to look for some breakfast. We walked for forever. But I was looking for something special, the perfect place to eat a breakfast that would also appeal to our kids. We stopped in a few places but they were either too fancy (oatmeal or eggs with all sorts of strange ingredients) or too plain (same ole same ole breakfast rolls that we can buy here). So we kept looking. And we finally found it. I wish I had taken pictures but I think we were so hungry that we weren't looking at anything except the food! We found a great cafe that had pastries and delicious coffee. We ordered two baskets of pastries, four large Americanos, a bowl of oatmeal, and probably some juice for the girls. We ate and had coffee and felt like we were in a fancy place in America. It was awesome.
The Winter Palace, home to the Hermitage
Alexander Column in Palace Square
Peter and Paul Cathedral
After breakfast (near the Winter Palace) we walked towards the palace and looked around, headed to the water and took some pictures, and began the walk back to the hostel. We packed up and got a taxi to the airport, which is when we realized just how royally we had been ripped off on our ride from the train station to the hostel. I don't remember the prices, just that the trip to the airport was a lot longer and about 1/3 the price. We had negotiated the taxi from the train station down as far as we felt he would go. Live and learn, I guess.
On the way to the airport all the girls crashed in the cab. They were so tired but such troopers. We caught our last flight home and were so, so glad to finally make it back with 3-year visas in hand!