Russia part 2: Saint Petersburg

“Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something.

From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

Our first view of Saint Petersburg (pronounced Sankt Pyterborrg or just Pyterborrg by Russians) was from the window of the Meteor (hydrofoil vessel) from Peterhof. A cheerful, high pitched woman’s voice shrieked and crackled over the loudspeaker in Russian – no doubt telling us the mysteries and wonders of Saint Petersburg. However, the Meteor was packed full of Chinese tourists and we three auspicious caucasians squished like sardines in among them.

Nobody had any idea what she was saying. Continue reading Russia part 2: Saint Petersburg

St Petersburg: gangsta grannies, advice unsought and a chance to walk on water

“There exists in St. Petersburg a powerful foe … This foe is no other than the Northern cold … At nine o’clock in the morning… it begins to bestow such powerful and piercing nips on all noses … At an hour when the foreheads of even those who occupy exalted positions ache with the cold, and tears start to their eyes, the poor titular councillors are sometimes quite unprotected. Their only salvation lies in traversing as quickly as possible, in their thin little cloaks, five or six streets, and then warming their feet in the porter’s room, and so thawing all their talents and qualifications for official service, which had become frozen on the way.”

The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol

DSC_0459Like characters in a winter fairytale, we’d had our fill of mulled wine and turkey, opened our presents, wished our friends and family a Merry Christmas and gone home to pack our passports and winter woolies. Early on the 26th, we made our way to Heathrow to catch our flight to St Petersburg.

When we booked our trip to St Petersburg back in September, I allowed myself to dream of a magical storybook land of romance and wonder, covered in a foot of white, fluffy snow. This, Hubby assured me, was a given. I’d read some of the drama of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and could picture Gogol’s beloved frost-bitten Petersburg with all it’s delightful Russian characters. Thermal underwear, merino wool socks, earmuffs, proper winter coat and woollen hat at the ready! Continue reading St Petersburg: gangsta grannies, advice unsought and a chance to walk on water