Actually, St. Petersburg as it didn’t get further than this. After the visit in June, I had half a day this time. Having heard about the boat tour, I googled a bit and found in the end one English speaking tour. Perfect for the time left and the cold but sunny morning. Definitely a thing to do.
Besides this, 3 more things:
- Do not leave the city without taking the metro. Though not if you have vertigo; the metro is incredibly deep done. My estimate was like a 50-70 meters. Turns out that this was rather a careful one.
- I swear to drink tea only next time I’m back. The coffee – no matter if in the hotel or a café, prepared by an Italian machine or a Soviet time looking truc – is truely disgusting.
- The time the waiters take to clean up a table is inversely proportional to the times the food takes to arrive. Read: if you are a slow eater, don’t put your fork down or your plate with whatever is left on it will be gone in no time.
Food, transport, sleeping, directions, advertisements, understanding of basic information without speaking the language and being able to read… The first day, I was pretty lost in St. Petersburg. Quickly checking the metro plan, njet. Having a look on the menu – next time. And so on.
Then I started to recognise words – ketchup, congress, forum, lift. As of the second day, it was almost like a puzzle. More and more parts being unveiled, completing the picture. Although more often than not, the picture of something incomprehensible. Because being able to read the word, does not include knowing what it means. Still, after recognizing Internet, Restauran (without the ‘t’ at the end), Bar, Club and taking the right metro in the right direction several times, life was starting to be normal again.
If now, I only manage to learn a few words going beyond yes, no, you are welcome and thanks, to not stand that helpless in front of people, everything is going to be alright.
Being officially for work in Piter, I only had one day for visiting. But what a great visit I got. If ever you’re looking for a guided walking tour through the city, go for Peter’s one. It’s done by students, in English and can last any time between 2 and – in our case – 5 hours. OK, I admit that included two breaks but we deserved them.
We did see a lot. A walk as much by the river and by hidden secrets as through the court yarts and big streets. I did not bother too much remembering names of squares, parks or churches. It was more to get a general impression of and feeling for the city. So that I’m prepared for coming back in September. Then, Petershof and Eremitag will be on the agenda.
I admit: it was my fault. How could I assume that being at the Russian consulate at 9 in the morning and having all papers would be enough?? Somehow, my memory must have been influenced by my experience at the German embassy: walk in with all papers, walk out 30 minutes later, done.
Not so here. First, one has to find the Consulate, then, they have you waiting outside – temperature this morning: 8°, but hey, it wasn’t even raining – letting 1 person at once inside. Only that it takes roughly 10 minutes per person. With 20 people in the queue, some were there as early as 8:00, and closing time at 12:30, hope was going down as well as body temperature.
After one hour, I saw this well hidden ad from an accredited agency doing the same job in a shopping centre nearby. And yes, they did have a well heated waiting room and even chairs. What the ad had not mentioned was that they almost doubled the price for a simple tourist visa. But after one hour in this &*ù$_ç( cold, it was worth it.
Now, I feel really reassured travelling to a country where I don’t speak the language, where the notion of service seems even less developed than in Belgium and where paying more suddenly makes life much easier. I should probably take some additional cash with me…