Now that the cold is finally coming, nothing better than a mini winter series After the oh-so-bucolic Finnish Lapland it’s Saint Petersburg‘s turn. I visited Russia‘s second largest city with my dear friend Laia during my time in Finland, long long ago.
We were a couple of still innocent Russian language students curious to see in real life all the places that our student’s book texts talked about. We were willing to discover a new and somewhat misterious country/culture and, why not, try out our – very basic – Russian language skills. So off we went. Helsinki-Saint Petersburg, easy train ride, except for the uncomfortable security check at the border, which was followed by a total change of the landscape that we contemplated from our window.
About five hours later we were in former Leningrad. All excited, we went straight to Nevski Prospekt, the city’s main avenue. The cold plus all the walking left us exhausted in no time… The kind of exhausted that makes you “feel high” and find every small thing hilarious – I hope it’s not only me -, like the signs of international chains such as McDonald’s and Pizza Hut transliterated into Cyrillic alphabet, people eating ice-cream on the street at -5ºC and the cupcake-like churches… so cute. Then there were the pale serious-looking women in big furry coats like I had never seen before walking in heels along the slippery streets while smoking Vogue cigarettes. Such an art, I thought.
As the time has gone by, I might have forgotten how to speak Russian, but I do remember how tasty and warming my first borscht was, a traditional beet soup for which I paid what looked like a million rubles judging by the amount of bank notes I gave to the waiter, that were in fact nothing more than the equivalent to a couple of euros. Don’t you love that feeling?
1. Neva River (frozen)
2. Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
3. Pastel-coloured houses on Neva River’s tributary
4. Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood
5-6. Winter Palace
7. Peter and Paul Fortress