Strutting around St PetersburgSeptember 29, 2016 in Russia
Day 2 in Russia and OMG I love this place.
After a brief introduction to the Russian Way of life yesterday, today was a day to get fully immersed.
The first item of business was a visit to the hotel gym, and man do the Russians know how to work out. I was in awe of the new machines I have never seen especially machines made especially to test your flexibility. I can now confirm that one leg is more flexible than the other and I can now not feel the other leg.
After a quick shower and breakfast complete with a bellini (alright 3 bellinis), it was time to hit the streets. Our first stop was Saint Issacs Cathedral. For 400 rubles (5 pounds) you could climb the dome to get an unobstructured view of central St Petersburg and enter the Cathedral itself. The climb was approximately 190 steps which isn't anything like the climb of the Duomo in Florence in 40+ degree heat but the view was pretty spectacular nonetheless.
We then entered the Cathedral and it was probably one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen (and the 4th largest in the world - the 1st being St Peters in Vatican City).The entire cathedral was adorned with marble, granite and gold and comprised a variety of colours (see photos). I was trying to take in all the beauty when Jamie ran over to me to inform me that 200,000 slaves died making the cathedral but then corrected himself saying that actually its ok he was wrong, they died building the whole city - totally makes it better.
After I decided that I was never leaving this building, Jamie bribed me with more Mojitos and 5 seconds later I found myself outside walking towards our next stop Church of the Savoir on Spilled Blood or in lamens terms another church. I made a few observations on our walk as follows:
1. There are weird people that sit in boxes everywhere across this city - at the bottom of the escalators in the metro stations (apparently to stop the mile long escalator if someone falls down the stairs), in parks and on certain streets. They all make me feel extremely uncomfortable.
2. The emergency sirens on the police cars sound like a child is behind the wheel turning on and off the siren or a really horrible DJ mash up.
3. Like the UK and most European cities, the traffic lights have a warm up orange light to indicate the light is about to turn green, but they also have a countdown timer here showing how long the light will remain green for - very cool.
4. There are Army, Navy and Air Force personal everywhere in what can only be described "very Russian" uniforms.
On arrival at the Church I was in awe of the "onions" on top of the buillding and upon entering the church the beautiful mosaics that adorned the entire interior. The Church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881.The church was built between 1883 and 1907 and the construction was funded by the imperial family (estimated at 4.5 million rubles!).
After a mulled wine in the nearby park, it was time to walk to the other side of the river to Peter-Pavels Fortress. This park is, for the most part, free, but had little side attractions including the surrounding wall which had to be paid for. After a brief walk around, we sat on a wall alongside the Neva River and shared an Irish Creme Magnum that was boozy as hell. I swung my legs carefreely over the edge and enjoyed the view not realising in the process I had also managed to cover the majority of my pant leg in bird poo. Jamie just laughed at me and then suggested it could be chocolate, but was almost certain it was bird poo.
After a quick clean up job with a few tissues, we made our way along the waterfront back to our hotel ready for a spa/sauna afternoon. Our hotel happens to have an insanely good spa complex complete with about 5 different types of saunas including the fabled Russian Log Room which apparently sits at about 90 degrees and a Snow Room where you are subjected to -15 degrees. Donned with our sexy white hotel bathrobes, we made our way down to the spa to try them all of them and the snow room was surprisingly quite enjoyable after sitting in a furnace.Read more