Around the World in 30 Days – St Petersburg

St Petersburg

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This former capital of Russia was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. That’s not so long ago and it is a cosmopolitan city full of beautiful people. I just started walking along Nevsky Prospect which is the main street. I was so amazed by everything that I kept on until I got to the river where the castle is and went back up the street. I think this city is where they grow the models you see in all the magazines.

It is expensive here but it lives up to whatever you’ve heard about it. Russians just refer to it as ‘Peter’. The best time to visit is in June during the White Nights when it never quite gets dark and people walk around until very late enjoying all St Petersburg has to offer.

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After being awed by the city I spent the next day preparing for Moscow. It was frustrating. I went to the train station and tried to get a ticket from Moscow through Russia. The girl couldn’t speak English but got a supervisor who could. They thought I wanted 2 tickets but they were wrong! They processed me for a ticket to Moscow and a ticket to Siberia. I told them , “No, I have a ticket to Moscow.” They said sorry and gave me a credit. (All this took a very long time) They tried to give me the correct order for just one ticket. Then they said the card wouldn’t work and I needed to pay cash. I checked my bank account and saw the charge and matching credit.

What happened? I don’t know but it took a long, long time.

There was a girl crying and yelling at another ticket window across the room. I think I know why.

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Tsar Peter had the famous street of St Petersburg: Nevsky Prospekt cut through miles of forest in 1720. It stretches from the Admiralty to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. Pushkin, Gogol, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nijinsky and Dostoevsky walked this street.

Who was Alexander Nevsky anyway? The guy who defeated the Swedes and Germans in the 13th century. He was buried in the monastery named after him by Peter the Great. The street hasn’t changed much since the Revolution.

Alexander Pushkin ate his last meal on this street before his fatal duel in 1837. Chernyshevsky, Krylov, Belinsky and Dostoyevsky also drank coffee and ate blini while composing their works.

Saint Petersburg’s main shops and businesses are here and you can eat and drink at the many restaurants, cafes and bars. Stepping into a side-street could save money as even a cafeteria can be expensive on Nevsky Prospekt.

Nevsky Prospekt’s architecture rivals Amsterdam, Rome and Venice. Across the Moika river, you see the Stroganoff Palace. This is where the internationally known beef dish was created in 1890 by the chef of Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov as he entertained foreign dignitaries.

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Travel the bridge over the Fontanka river and you see the four bronze sculptures of men taming wild horses by Baron Peter von Klodt. These horse tamers from 1850 were removed during World War II and buried underground near Anichkov Palace for their safety. They reappeared above ground in 2000 fully restored.

It is now over 300 years since Peter the Great declared that the old Finnish village by the Neva was going to be the new capital of Russia.
The 300th anniversary involved a hundred million dollar makeover. Is it a coincidence that Vladimir Putin is a native?

your intrepid reporter,
Lee

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Moscow, Russia is next

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