Risking this is becoming a city guide, St. Petersburg warrants a single entry in my blog.
The 716 km ride was one of the longer ones – to be avoided in future – fortunately no problems. Neil and I are still riding together, although St Petersburg will be our swan song, as our ways will part beyond.
However, finally we figured out a better way of riding together: the ride-at-your-own-pace-and-wait-@-predetermined-spots-for-each-other method. It worked well! You must know that riding as a pair or in a group has its advantages and probs – I’ve elaborated in a previous post. Most irritating for me is riding as a pair/group in traffic. We all have a different sense of speed and risk-taking, especially when it comes to over-taking other traffic. Some of us are familiar with lane-splitting (at traffic-lights) and higher-dense rushhour like traffic. So, when riding in a group, somewhere behind a fellow rider, I constantly uhm and ahh about not taking THAT opportunity to overtake, rather being forced to continue breathing-in the exhaust fumes and not being able to see ahead especially when stuck behind a truck or caravan.
Our approach solved all this. We rode and overtook at our own liking and pace, didn’t have to constantly observe the rear mirror to ensure your other partner/s are still within sight. Instead we arranged to meet ~ at each 150kms at a spot easy to see when approaching so behind rider/s could see soon enough o pull over safely. Worked like a threat and no grumbling in one’s helmet ;-). This also ensured we took sufficient breaks, stretched our legs, drank water and decided on the next spot.
St. Petersburg was kind to us arriving late at 20.30 but still in good daylight. We found our accommodation with no trouble. Again a hostel, this time mainly frequented by Russian holidaymakers, youth and families alike. It was close to the centre, so all was in walking distance. The city was brim-full with Tourist, just as us, however most of them Russians.
EXPOLRATION was firmly on the agenda!
St. Petersburg, the Venice of the north. It has many waterways and even more small and bigger bridges, most of them share a specific history. St. Petersburg felt different to Moscow – couldn’t help to contrast. Formerly Leningrad, it hasn’t quite the flair of Moscow, high heels are much less common, I guess it is caused by the cobblestone streets in town. Although St. Petersburg breathes history more easily and tangibly – all being rather accessible by foot. It just feels more ‘stately’ like an ancient Capital (as it was for a period of time).
There is the Hermitage and we were rather able to avoid the queue! Most people just line up when they see one, thus not exploring other means to get a ticket and legally jump the queue. The Hermitage can be booked on-line and the emailed ticket gets you through in a separate entrance, although the ticket costs a little more – no worries. There are at least two ticket machines perhaps a little hidden in a side-alley, both never had a queue.
The hermitage is huge, so a two-day ticket would be something I would do/recommend next time. It’s cheer opulence can be disgusting to some, here are a few pics:
Neil and I could manage just a few hours, maybe four then we felt overwhelmed by all the gold, opulence and history.
I recommend to have a meal here at ‘Yat’, which was recommended to me – thank you B John O. Enter through a non-suspect stairs down into a cellar and be surprised by its ambience and selection of traditional Russian food – most enjoyable and a ‘must do!’ for your <own Moscow to-do list!
Couldn’t resist an did a Segway city tour. A small group of four and one guide saw us cruising from one end, over the river, to the other – grand! Definitely recommend!
More impressions of St. Petersburg. The next are the first-cafe-am- Platz! an oldstyle, grand-designed cafe to sample whatever Russian food you can imagine. Budget didn’t cover the $2000K portion of caviar, so we settled for little less, still enjoyed the atmosphere.
After three days Neil and I moved our separate ways: Neil to travelling north and I pointing ze bike towards the south-west. The Baltic countries are waiting.