St. Petersburg  





  Tsarkoe Selo


We (me and my wife) visited St Petersburg from 5 to 9 October. It was a pleasant trip, even if we went there out of the tourist season. The weather was fine and we didn't have any rain.


St Petersburg is an enormous town, both in extension and in population - around 5 million. This way, it is very crowded, in the traffic, in the streets, Metro, transports, a.s.o.


Russians are friendly, especially the women. Men tend to abuse drinking, with bad results. People sing everywhere and to see people singing at the table in a bar is not uncommon.


The town still suffers from the destructions of the WW2 and from the obscure reign of the Soviets. All the buildings need painting and all the public means of transportation could be thrown away, dirty and full of rust as they are. Fortunately the Metro is o.k. and reliable.


The beautiful tings in town come from old times when the city was the capital for the Tsars. The Hermitage Museum is wonderful (and enormous). One could spend many days there, but we limited our visit to a journey. Then we went to Peterhof on a guided tour (car, driver and a speaking English Russian guide), and next day to Tsarkoe Selo (the village of the Tsar) where the Palace of Catherine the Great stays. They are really splendid, totally rebuilt since the WW2.


There are a lot of cathedrals and churches to see, all very beautiful. If you don't speak Russian, you must pay a higher fee as a tourist which is  to ten times more than what  local people must pay. So, it was a great pleasure to visit the St Nicholas Cathedral, where takes place effectively the Orthodox cult, so the entrance is free.


I took an especial pleasure visiting the museum of the poetess Anna Akhmátova, a poor house, where all it's written in Russian. But I enjoyed seeing the pictures of her and her family.


A fait divers: on 7, the opera Mazepa, from Tchaikowski was produced in the Mariinskiy Theatre. Puttin, the President of Russia attended the performance to celebrate his birthday. We saw his entrance in the local television.








My advice for prospective visitors:


Buy a good book guide. The best I found is Eyewitness (Dorling Kindersley Book), but Lonely Planet is also o.k. (you can see it also in the Internet).

You must learn the Russian alphabet. It is essential to be able to read the words, in the Metro and everywhere. Take also with you a table with the numbers, unless you want to use your fingers all the time to show the quantities.

When taking a taxi, you must bargain with the driver. They keep asking the double of a fair price.

Don't bring much money. There are many Bankomats all over the town.


Some sites about St Petersburg:


Guide to St Petersburg: http://www.online.ru/sp/fresh/

Guide of Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/dest/eur/stp.htm



Hermitage by IBM: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/index.html

Newspaper St Petersburg Times: http://www.sptimes.ru/