Well, as it turned out, Sandy’s plane ride to St. Petersburg was delayed about 6 hours in Dallas, so they re-routed her from DFW through London to St. Pete. She arrived around 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, July 23rd, and it was a joyous reunion, as we hadn’t seen each other since May 1. That evening we had dinner at a traditional Russian restaurant serving dishes like Borsch (cabbage soup) and Beef Stroganoff. It was a really good way to start off our visit. The rest of the time we ate mostly Italian food and burgers, but on our last night in St. Pete we ate at a tremendous Indian food restaurant named Oh Mumbai! Sandy & I love good Indian food, and this place ranks in our all-time top 5.
As with the rest of my journey, we stayed at Airbnb apartments (somebody’s home) in both St. Pete and Moscow. I really like Airbnb for overseas travel because you get to see the city & country as the locals see it, living in the same places they live. Whether you are shopping at the local supermarket or eating at the neighborhood café, at least you are not part of the international tourist industry that tends to mask a city’s true character and flavor by making almost every place on the planet resemble every other place. Our place in St. Pete was a one room apartment (plus a tiny bathroom) in an old 3 story building, and it was very working class, but perfectly located right in the middle of the old city. Here’s a couple of pictures of the apartment:
We walked almost everywhere that we went in St. Petersburg, except for our trip out to Peterhof- Peter the Greats summer palace in the country. We toured the spectacular St. Isaak’s Cathedral, but we didn’t even try to get into the Hermitage Museum, which had a 4-hour waiting line for tickets. I could/should have booked tickets on-line in advance, but…next time. The highlight of St. Pete was attending the ballet at the 170 year old Mikhailovsky Theater. There is nothing like live Russian ballet, with great Russian dancers and a full orchestra, and this is one of the premier venues in the world. These tickets I did order on-line, and we were lucky enough to get great seats to see Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Here’s some pictures, since they don’t allow photography during the performance, I’ve swiped some promotional photos off the internet of the same production with the same dancers:
On the following Thursday, after 4 nights in St. Petersburg, we boarded a high-speed train to Moscow, which took about 4.5 hours, arriving around 1:00 in the afternoon. The Russian countryside between St. Petersburg & Moscow is a mix of forested wilderness and farmland with sporadic small villages with only partially paved roads. It did not start to look developed or industrial until we were within a few miles of Moscow.
Here are some of our pictures of St. Petersburg: