I started my day on the 1am overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I’ll admit that I was a bit scared of who I’d be sharing my cabin with: smokers, strange individuals, gross guys, etc. But to my relief, I shared the cabin with a mother and her young son and another woman who thankfully spoke French.
The train side was uneventful…no one stole anything (at least in our cabin)…except that I was constantly checking to see if I could use the men’s bathroom until a guy took pity on me and told me where the women’s bathroom was and it did take me a full ten minutes to figure out how to turn on the faucet. TIP: turn the handles to the temperture you want and then press the stick thing coming out of the faucet spout.
St. Petersburg is a bit stressful…the civil and urban engineers who created St. Petersburg must have planned Korea (or vice versa, you never know). Most cities, that I have been to, are either planned as (1) grids, with the streets that go east-west and north-south, or (2) a single radial, the city is built surrounding a particular landmark or building. St. Petersburg has several radials thrown into/within the grid and street names randomly change names or oddly continue, not in a straight line but crookedly. Also, not all the maps are up to dateas far as the subway lines and stations go. And awkwardly Nevsky Pr is closed in the late afternoon, you can leave but you can’t enter the main station doors, so go down the street to the other entrance.
I arrived eventually at the St. Petersburg International Hostel to find out that the hostel manager accepted my credit card, charged it, and forgot to enter in my information in the books. I was in the computer, but not the books, so the day receptionist was trying to get me to pay for my bed again. Happily it all was sorted out when the manager came in the afternoon. Although I upset the day receptionist when I shook my head at the situation, telling me that this was a serious problem and I shouldn’t be laughing. I thought about telling her, either I smile and laugh to myself or I get upset about this small mistake, which would you like me to do?
I tried to go to Kat Kafe but it was closed for at least another 30 minutes and I was too impatient to start my day, so I looked for another place to eat. I tried to find a Greek place called Taverna Olivia, but that was even more unsuccessful than Kat Kafe. SO I head to the synagogue and Lehaim. After a completely filling meal, I decided to wander around, take photos, and look (spend) money at the souvenir market by the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. I’m sure that I overpaid for some of the items, 800 r for a matrushka doll, 300 r for a wooden angel tree ornament, 500 r for a collection of five tree ornaments, but one you see them, I think that you’ll understand.
The ridiculously stressful part of the was when I was one stop away from the subway near my hostel, but the subway (Nevsky Pr) was closed. There was an explanation, but I don’t know that much Russian. I really don’t know/understand the bus sytem so I walked and walked and before I got to the hostel I realized that I need to turn around to make it to the ballet in time. Of course everyone needed to take the subway at theat exact moment and walked extremely slow. I got to the ballet about 5 minutes late and only missed the first few minutes of the overture.
I made it back to the hostel in one piece without any incidents, but that may have been also because at 10:30pm it was still light out like it was 4pm.