Four days in Saint Petersburg

Petrograd, Leningrad, Venice of the North, Paris of the East, or just Peter – Saint Petersburg has been called many things. And each of these names describe a different side of this beautiful city: You can find buildings of Soviet architecure, although not too many; they don’t “spoil” the old European looks of the city. Many buildings, the Winter Palace as a glorious example, are built in a Baroque style, and also many of the regular houses in the city center show and artistic finish.

The Palace Square/Winter Palace

The city is built on several islands and also has a network of canals and waterways, with the river Neva as its aorta.

Spb at night 1Every night they raise all the major bridges to allow cargo vessels to enter the city and deliver or load their goods. But this means that for some hours there is no means of getting from one part of the city to the other. The metro, which runs below the canals and the river would have been a workaround for pedestrians, but it stops service at one o’clock, even before they start disconnecting the islands. When I first heared this I could not believe it: it seemed unlikely for this big and modern a city to not change such a situation. But then I saw it with my own eyes (it is true!), and I actually started liking the concept. Things don’t always have to be improved to perfection, this is actually a nice way of bringing structure into one’s nighttime activities and people seem to have arranged themselves with it. Spb at night 2And standing at the open bridge in a warm autumn breeze, with all the facades of the surrounding buildings subtly illuminated was a powerful experience in its own.






I had taken the bus from Loksa (Lahemaa) to Saint Petersburg (about four hours with border control), and after almost two weeks in the forest it felt weird travelling, seeing many people and playing tourist again. But in a way the city made it easy for me: There are so many interesting places that it is impossible to see everything in 4 days. Once I had understood that fact I could just chose the most interesting places for me and call it good. And I met some wonderful locals who showed me or pointed me to places I would not have found otherwise. Thank you!


The Savior on the Blood Church

Saviors Church on the Blood

Marvellous both from the outside and the inside. With it’s playfully colored onion-shaped domes it is a widely visible and recognisible building and a curiosity to the western tourist. Inside, every centimeter of wall-space is covered with colorful and golden mosaics – depicting seemingly every saint who has ever walked this earth.

Tourist in a church

Also a good place for tourist watching, since that is (unfortunately) its sole purpose now: a gigantic tourist attraction.

Overview over the city

View of Peter and Paul Fortress, Admiralty and Winter Palace

From Saint Isaacs Cathedral you have a great view of all the main sights in the city center, and of a lot more. With 300 years old, Saint Petersburg is a fairly new city. And it was planned very carefully by its fouder, tsar Peter the Great: Apart from churches, no building was to be built higher than to a certain limit (five or so floors). Thus there is nothing blocking your view when standing on the tower of a church…

Tsarskoye Selo/Pushkin

The Catharine Palace with it’s amber room and the surrounding parks (read about it here)

The “magic place”

Concert at the "Magic Place"

I don’t even know the name of this little and well hidden venue. I went there with a few couchsurfers I had met the evening before at the weekly cs meeting. If I had to describe it I would say “hippie place” with lots of cool and random artefacts. Fun masks, psychedelic pictures and handcrafted jewellery were all exhibited on the walls. When I first arrived I was asked what kind of beverage I would like; tea – and got a delicious hot mixture with different kinds of leaves, fruits and berries shortly afterwards. A guy with a guitar arrived and had a concert, I learned how to fight with real metal swords in the dark courtyard and we had a trying on of a variety of not so practical but very creative handmade glasses.

Me trying on Magic Glasses

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