Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg- First few impressions

Some of my earliest memories of my childhood and the word ‘Russia’ are from those days which were filled with reading storybooks published by Raduga, a state-owned publication house of the Soviet Union of the 1970s. Those books published by Raduga were very popular among children and the stories I read were mostly the translated versions of stories about the lives of Russian children and their incredible adventures. Ever since I had been harboring a secret wish to visit Russia someday.

It was a secret wish as the word ‘Russia’ somehow intimidated me as much as it fascinated me. Growing up, I came across some of the beautiful works of Russian literary geniuses like Gorky, Tolstoy, and Gogol. Theirs were beautiful stories too and Russia still fascinated as well as intimidated me. So when the idea of a trip to St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia came up, I was never going to leave it there. A trip had to be planned!

Although I am aware of the fact that a single city doesn’t define a nation, a glimpse of Russia is better than no Russia. For those who have already ventured into the dreamy world of Anna Karenina, a journey to St. Petersburg is like a pilgrimage and I am so happy that I did this journey. Someday, I hope Moscow will happen too but till then I have beautiful memories from St. Petersburg to cherish.

In memory, I am jotting down my first few impressions of the city.

1. St. Petersburg doesn’t disappoint: It is a pretty but old city, exactly like what I had imagined before setting foot in the city. With its historic buildings and magnanimous statues, the city is second to none. One might compare it with Paris or Berlin because of its canal system by the Neva River and the architectural gems but this place has its signature charm which cannot be put into words. No matter what is your point of interest, be it history, architecture or literature, you will find your ‘thing’ in this city for sure.

2. It takes forever to clear immigration: This is either because there are too many tourists or there are very less number of immigration counters both at the airport (so I have heard) and the ferry terminal (so I have seen). If you are visiting the city by a cruise on the visa-free program then be prepared to push other passengers or get pushed during disembarkation. It is like a mad war at the immigration with people fighting and accusing each other of breaking queues or rough-handling. So count at least one and half hours off your time in the city.

3. One day is not enough: Again if you are traveling by a cruise and planning to return the same day, I would say it is a bad idea. Remember to count the immigration time! Also, St. Petersburg is a city so huge and magnificent, one day is never enough to explore everything . If the visa-free option allows you to stay for 72 hours in the city then stay for 72 hours. Otherwise, you are going to regret your decision as every passing moment will make you realize how interesting each and every corner of this city looks.

4. Your English is of no use, mostly: Everywhere you look, you feel as if all the English alphabets have gone on a vacation. You cannot possibly read and understand a single word of Russian by looking at the signs. At least in Finland, I can make out something from reading random words. And I tried buying a toothbrush at a store! They didn’t understand me till I made an ‘I am brushing my teeth’ gesture. Even then, they brought me a toothpaste tube! But I don’t want to generalize. This is only my first impression. ( In case I go there again, I don’t want to be held at the immigration because of this comment 😛 ) But did somebody flip the alphabets??? Just asking!

5. There is no dearth of Street foods: The wafts of fried sausages and boiled corns on the streets of St. Petersburg is unmissable. Those cute little kiosks are strewn everywhere and when you are tired from all the walking, you will find some delectable sweets waiting to surge up your sugar level. Honestly speaking, the street food scene in Finland is so sad that I had almost forgotten the joy of tucking in sumptuous, unhealthy, and super cheap foods. So when in St. Petersburg, eat like a hog and never skip a delicious looking stall. In a way, the small roadside kisoks reminded me of Mumbai, a city with endless street food options. However, Mumbai wins in terms of numbers. Population, you see!

6. The weather can be a little schizophrenic: Go there packed with heavy sunscreen lotions expecting the Baltic sun to penetrate through your dress and scorch your bums but end up feeling like a frozen chicken that takes forever to thaw. And when you have despaired enough for being severely under-dressed and the hair ravaged by the crazy wind, the sun god peeps in to see if you are still alive. But by that time, people would be again pushing each other at the immigration for the return journey. So when in St. Petersburg, dress in layers so that you can shed some when the weather goes mad. Perhaps, this is true for the entire Baltic regions. Therefore you got to improvise.

So here are my first few impressions of this beautiful Russian city. Despite those little hassles, the city simply bowled me over and I am sharing a few photos before I sign off. Here’s how my one day in Russia looks like:

Photo Gallery:

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral

The most iconic landmark in the city- Church of the Savior on Blood

Architecture so neat!

A city that offers everything, including some sneaky fun!

Palace square

The breathtaking building of Winter Palace

For those wanting to feel royal

The man- St. Peter himself

Probably, every city in the world has a statue of hero on a horse!

Mouthwatering street food-soft cake

Poppy seed roll

sunset over the Baltic

Failed attempt at taking perspective shots

Mid night sun

Also enjoy this video I made of the sunset-

9 Comments

  • kaushik55 June 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Hey, despite your self-criticism, the sunset photos look good. Despite the weather being cloudy, you have taken nice shots of the churches. I wonder, what camera do you use? Full credit to the photographer.

    Reply
    • Jutismita June 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I use a Nikon D 5200. I am still learning and comments like this make me want to put more time and energy into it. Glad that you enjoyed the photos.

      Reply
  • pedrol November 16, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    St Peters is an amazing city 🙂 went there for the first time this year (last May) and had a great time! reading your article made me travel back there again eheh regards PedroL

    Reply
  • The Snow Melts Somewhere August 11, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Great post! I’ve been meaning to visit St Petersburg for AGES but I’ve had trouble finding a trip buddy… anyway, so happy to hear it won’t disappoint when I finally get there!!! Will take into consideration staying for a couple of days. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • Jutismita Hazarika August 14, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      Hey thanks for your kind words. Hope you enjoy the city. I wish I had more time to explore it but it is still better than nothing. Do share your experience when you make it there.

      Reply
  • Suvi July 25, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I love the sunset photos, so cute!

    I also am a fan of St Petersburg, I have been twice – once by bus and the other time by ferry.

    I found it easy to communicate with English though, so I think it depends who you encounter 🙂

    I so agree that the mad rush at the ferry terminal is awful and because of the time wasted there, I’d rather go by train next time! That means the visa hassle though 🙁

    Reply
    • Jutismita Hazarika July 26, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Thank you so much for your compliments. I wish I could stay there for a couple of days. Such beautiful streets and people! And yes, I agree with you that the ‘English thing’ was just a perception made on a few interactions I made there. So it might not be the reality. I am sure, it differs depending on who you are speaking to. Wish I knew other common languages to interact!

      But most of the store signs were absolutely difficult to understand 😉

      Reply
      • Suvi July 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

        Yes, the alphabet is really tricky isn’t it! I can’t remember seeing signs in English..

        Reply

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