As a disclaimer, I will mention to you now that this particular post may hold a tad bit of negativity…. and this is my blog so I’m gonna go ahead and share my thoughts. Apologies to those who hold St Petersburg in high regard, but as you have probably already guessed, I have been disappointed.
This day has been nothing but a battle; with stupid lines, horrendous crowds, closed attractions, long long walking distances, lack of convenient food or washrooms, poor organization and signage coupled with a language barrier (usually doable) and some rude and pushy individuals, and top that off with the 30 degree Russian heat wave smoldering you from all angles, and really sore feet.
We went back to the Hermitage and winter palace today, because yesterday it was closed. Lines for tickets were ridiculous, unorganized chaos, but we managed to get ours from a machine with only about 30 people waiting. The other was broken, and two human ticket booths were at least 4 times longer. We battled to get inside, trying to break away from the hoards of huge tour groups so we could see something. The museum had no directional signs to know where you were or what you were seeing and there was no way we would be finding a map in that mess of pushy people at the entrance. We wandered through for 2 hours avoiding groups and going against the grain. Basically the palace had some neat architectural features but was set up like a museum of art (boring) and the crowds ruined any kind of positive impression in my mind.
We paused for a breath of fresh air (because I admit to being nearly homicidal with those crowds) some green grass, feet rest, and a mid morning baked goody. Then we set off on a walking tour our map suggested. The short and long of it was that the castle, the summer garden and palace were closed on Tuesdays and so we walked for 1.5 hours and had nearly nothing to show for it. 2 hours in we crossed the hottest, longest, most traffic congested bridge across the muddy brown river for one more attempt at a sight. With not much for food in sight, and feeling drained and shaky we stooped (yes) to Burger King, with long lines out the door, and this time a salad was certainly not going to cut it. Language barrier was a bit of an issue but I’m totally fine with that, it’s the first place this trip really. I just needed food!
Then, Instead of waiting in line at the only toilet available all day, behind 15 people not even paying to eat in there we walked 30 ft and paid a dollar to use the porto booth potty with only 2 others in line. Unreal! Why did they allow this?
Since we walked this far we went to the fortress of Peter and Paul for the prison and cathedral. Crowds were crappy at the cathedral again, though inside was nice. We’ve seen so many now though that its hard to appreciate them all. This one was full of gold details, which were admittedly impressive, as was the exterior in bright yellow… But nothing fantastic or unique. The prison was pretty lame, with all cells mostly the same with a likely-dumbed down English version of a story beside each cell and its possible prisoner. Over and over for two levels of long hallways. However, sometimes it’s hard to judge if our experiences lessen our appreciation for new things because we begin to compare them to each other. This can be said for both the cathedral and the prison, amongst other things…. I guess like palaces and museums too.
Just when it couldn’t be hotter, it was, as we crossed the nearly 1km bridge back, then down a hot shade-less main street to the bus stop, another km at least. Fading fast we opted for Popsicles at one of the zillion cooler carts… This time it was banana flavor with chewy weird exterior and soft creamy inside…. About as good as my day so far, but at least it was cold and wet.
Bus 24 was so extremely popular and crowded that the bus lady couldn’t see us or possibly get to us and so it was free. Hot, sweaty, smelly, and cramped we rode the last 3km back and jumped off with moderate breezy relief into the crowded walking street.
We hid for an hour away from everything, back in the room before a second attempt at my favorite cafe. Strange food ensued, and we didn’t even get to eat our food together at the same time, but as long as our tummies were full enough it would suffice.
I am officially ready to go home, do nothing, hug my dog but not walk him, and eat some cold boxed breakfast cereal. Huh. I’m just tired I think, and its sad to say, but the last location of a trip always gets the shaft because you’re just so mentally done!