Well, it’s my last evening in St Petersburg, and in Russia. I fly back home tomorrow just before 5 in the afternoon. That at least gives me a little bit of time in the morning. Which is good.
It’s good because I realised (at 1030) this morning, that today is a Monday. That means things don’t open. Things like museums. I got to the Hermitage at about 20 past 10 this morning, stood around for a bit (it opens at half-past) and thought to myself: ‘hmm, it’s a bit quiet.’ It was quiet because, as alluded to, it’s a Monday, and I’m an idiot.
|See! Weird Looking!|
So what did I do? I went and got a cuppa and thought through other stuff to do. In the end I wandered up to the Peter and Paul Fort, which was a nice wander, but nothing stunning – aside from the creepy statue that the two kiwi girls and the English guy from the hostel found.
Then I hopped on the metro and headed south. Apparently the train museum is very good – I was told this by an Aussie in the hostel. Of course, I got there and once again, it’s a Monday!! I’m two for two and didn’t even see it coming.
After that I got a bit bright; as I was already Southwards, and now don’t have the time to spare tomorrow (off to the Hermitage when it’s actually open this time), I headed for the Defenders of Leningrad Memorial – a massive roundabout with a huge column, a big marble circle bit with lots of stuff on the walls, and a small museum in an amazing underground chamber. It’s a truly moving memorial to people having the shit blown out of them for over two and a half years. I don’t think Blitz spirit quite sums it up!
|Under the Column|
After that I had a look at the Moscow Triumphal Arch, which is from a mid-nineteenth century war with the Persians, Turks and Poles. Then back to the hostel to veg, check-in and type up a couple of these. After that, out for some tea.
The food in Russia has been amazing. Excluding my random fancy meal in Novgorod – actually no, even with that in, the best was probably Traktir in Vladimir. I think I had beef stroganoff, however there was no English menu, and the waitresses English was iffy at best. I’ve also had a couple of amazing meals here in St. Petersburg. Pelmeni (dumplings filled with meat), both in butter and baked with cheese and mushrooms; a lamb stew in a Caucasian restaurant – I think that particular dish was Armenian; and tonight’s, which was a pork, onion and field mushroom stew with a pastry topping. These meals have all been amazing, all around £10 or less, and a total surprise (given I didn’t know what Russian food was). Sadly, like decent Turkish food, it may be something I struggle to find back home.
|Arches always seem to be for nineteenth century wars!!|
This trip to Russia has been one of the best I’ve done (so far) and certainly the best on my own. The people I’ve met, travellers and locals who have helped me along alike, have been amazing, and the nights out with much of the above have been fantastic. The sights I’ve seen, and the culture – both the shock and getting to know it – have been unbelievable. More than anything else, this trip has reaffirmed my need to go walkabout, on a long trip. The Compostela is still high on the list, but after the lads I met in Moscow, now the Trans-Siberian has to jump up a bit higher too. Will it ever happen? Well, I suppose we’ll all have to watch this space.