A Look Behind The Wall of St Petersburg, Russia (Part 1)

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A Look Behind The Wall of St Petersburg, Russia (Part 1)

First look of Russia

What comes to your mind when I say RUSSIA?

Communist? Poverty? Military? Nuclear? Mafia? Conflict? Secretive? Cold? Such descriptions did flash across my mind before, but perhaps after reading this post, you may change your mindset towards one a more positive connotation… 🙂

My first peep into The Russian Federation

Russia… the largest country in the world, occupying 1/8 of world’s inhabited land area. Sitting between Asia and Europe continent. The most militarized country and perhaps one of the “secretive” country ever. Big land, rich resources and tonnes of money come with a heavy price for it. Russia has come a long way with many years of history. From the grandeur of the Tsars (Monarchs in the history of Russia), the brutality of the Soviet regime, to the onion domes of cathedrals all captivated my imagination for this amazing country!

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Crossing the border from Finland into Russia can be interesting. You basically need to be patience and do sufficient homework. This is a very busy border and if you are patience enough and be nice to the frontier guards, provide the right paperwork you will not have much problems. If you are bringing a laptop it is absolutely fine, and you don’t have to declare it or pay tax, but if you bring two laptops that can potentially cause a problem. The frontier guards may make you to pay a tax, thinking of possibility that you may wish to sell the item. This could be approximately 30% of the item’s cost. So, you need to be extra caution and think through what you carry into Russia with you. A friend of mine got this problem! So just be aware of it. 🙂

Near the Finnish-Russian border

Near the Finnish-Russian border

Once you crossed the border, I would say it was a feeling of organised chaos to define my first Russian experience. My journey to Russia turned up all of the stereotypes from onion domes, stacking cute little Russian dolls, and exasperating bureaucracy, I was really glad it went well beyond all thees clichés.

A town in Russia

A town in Russia

A residential estate in Russia

A residential estate in Russia

A residential town in Russia

A residential town in Russia

St Petersburg (Venice of the North)

Even being a well-traveled traveler, I would say I was a little concern or fearful of my travel to Russia. BUT today, I’ll proudly say that St Petersburg is one of my favourite city in the world! Russia amazed me in every different aspect. St Petersburg is a cultural heart of Russia. Splendid view with many ancient Europe civilisation architectural gems such as Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace),  Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Garden and many more… You MUST give yourself ample time to browse through the world renowned collections at the Hermitage and takes some time to understand the sad history that St Petersburg went through from Leningrad to what St Petersburg is today! A feel of Rome, Italy or Vatican City to be exact, due to the Roman Catholicism of Russian history!

Venice of the North

Venice of the North

WARNING: This will be a long recommendation list for this AMAZING city, here are my 15 Things To Do In St Petersburg, Russia! Split into 2 separate posts! 🙂 Click here for Part 2!

1) Neva River (Legend & Sphinx)

Neva River was intended to be the “main street of the city”. In the 18th century, there were no bridge to cross the river and people were using the ferry or gondolas to cross between the banks. Peter the Great founded this beautiful city as the “Venice of the North” in that era. Today, Neva River remain an essential part of the city’s charm.

Shih Tsza Lion Sculpture of Chinese Manchurian

Shih Tsza Lion Sculpture of Chinese Manchurian

Ancient Russian Vessel at Neva River

Sphinx Sculpture of the Egyptians

Sphinx Sculpture of the Egyptians

Griffin Sculpture of the Greek

Griffin Sculpture of the Greek

With Mexican & American friend at Neva River

A wedding at Neva river

Keith at Neva River

2) Neva River Cruise 

I was really surprise the ferry cruised for about an hour or so. It took me to explore the enchanting St Peterburg through a little sightseeing boat. Cruise along the Neva River and admire the major sights that line up St Petersburg’s romantic waterway and passed by many beautiful architectural and cathedrals such as

  • Church of the Savior on Blood
  • Peter & Paul Fortress
  • Mariinsky Theatre
  • Hermitage and many more…

You will also be passing through countless beautiful bridges giving you a perfect Disney treat in reality world! 🙂

Venice of the North

Venice of the North

With my Aussie friends

With my Aussie friends

IMG_5100

Gotta beware of your head AT ALL TIMES!

Beautiful canal of St Petersburg

Beautiful canal of St Petersburg

Enjoying the cruise at St Petersburg

Enjoying the cruise at St Petersburg

Beautiful Canal of St Petersburg

Beautiful Canal of St Petersburg

The Friendly Russian Girls

The Friendly Russian Girls

Am I in Venice, Italy now?

Am I in Venice, Italy now?

Cute Russian Newly Weds

Cute Russian Newly Weds

3) Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

One of the most amazing church I ever seen!!! A beautiful gold wrapped onion domed church on the Griboedova Waterway. A stone throw away from Kazan Cathedral and it was built on the place where Russian emperor/liberator, Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. A chapel to commemorate him was built inside the church!

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Entrance to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Entrance to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Entrance to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Entrance to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

An amazing real-life story about this church! During World War II, a Nazi’s bomb hit the church and did not blow up. It was only discovered 18 years later in the central cupola of the church.

Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Amazing Sight of the Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Amazing Sight of the Lavishing Interior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

A Chapel Inside the Church

A Chapel Inside the Church

A Chapel Inside the Church

A Chapel Inside the Church

To be honest, I was very very impressed by the exquisite architecture of the church! Both exterior and interior was stunning!!! You won’t believe it until you’ve seen it yourself. Every inch is covered in mosaics and if you miss this church, you never been to St Petersburg! 🙂 Outside the church there were some cute little Russian monkeys that caught my attention! haha

Russian Monkeys

Russian Monkeys

4) Peterhof Garden

Peterhof Garden gave me an idea of age of empire! Impressive master landscapers and designer who built the palace and garden to overcome the inclement conditions via an intellectual combination of greenery, flowers, and ornate architectural decorations.

Peterhof Palace & Gardens

Peterhof Palace & Gardens

I would strongly recommend the lower park with Fountains than the upper garden! This is the place where a formal garden was built for Peter the Great, filled with over 80 original marble statues and sculptures.

Russian Soldier

Russian Soldier

Fountain at Peterhof Garden

Fountain at Peterhof Garden

Peterhof Garden

Peterhof Garden

Peterhof Garden

Peterhof Garden

Russians at Peterhof Garden

Russians at Peterhof Garden

The huge elegant Peterhof garden if filled with gaudy and ornate glittering everywhere! With majestic gold-plated architectural and sparking fountain provides you an undeniable privilege experience at the Peterhof Garden!

Petershof Garden

Petershof Garden

Petershof Garden

Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Petershof Garden

Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Fountain of Petershof Garden

Soldiers at the Petershof Garden

Soldiers at the Petershof Garden

5) Hermitage Museum (The Winter Palace)

The Winter Palace was built in 1732, an official residential palace of the Russian Monarchs! Sitting right in front of the Neva River!

Outside Hermitage

Outside Hermitage

Today, the winter palace is one of the most famous art museum in the world! If you are in Paris, you need to visit the Louvre, if you are in London, you need to go to British Museum! Same goes with Russia! Hermitage Museum boasts one of the biggest collections with more than 3 million exhibits! You seriously could spend days here in Hermitage! haha maybe I exaggerated a bit! 🙂

Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

Interior of Hermitage Museum

From jewelry to master piece of Van Gogh, great paintings of Picasso, Da Vinci to Russian Kandinsky, Rome to Egyptians, China to Middle East! I never seen any exhibitions as grand (apart from Louvre). Even I’m not a big fan of art, I was overwhelmed by the scale of it!

Throne in the Hermitage Museum

Throne in the Hermitage Museum

Alexander I of Russia

Alexander I of Russia

Decorations of Crimson Room in Hermitage Museum

Decorations of Crimson Room in Hermitage Museum

Chandelier of Hermitage

Chandelier of Hermitage

Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum

Dog Decoration of the Fireplace

Dog Decoration of the Fireplace

With Canadian Friend at Armorial Hall at Winter Palace

With Canadian Friend at Armorial Hall at Winter Palace

6) St. Peter’s Palace Square

The Palace Square sort of reminded me of St Peter’s Square in Vatican City! This place blew me off with the extraordinary architectures and HUGE open space!!! (Well, undeniably Russia is the biggest country with BIG lands! Unlike Singapore! haha) It’s within walking distance from the Hermitage (Winter Palace) and it’s definitely a must visit! It’s so huge that gave me an impression that I’m in the heart of Russia! Over here, you feel you are so tiny! haha

Tiny me at Palace Square

Tiny me at Palace Square

Palace Square

Palace Square

You used to see military celebration, filled with people, military generals and personnel, would say a place for Russians to be proud of and show off their “assets” on television. When I was in that massive square I felt, “finally I’m in the largest country of the world – The Russian Federation!” 🙂

Palace Square

Palace Square

Palace Square

Palace Square

Horse Carriage at Palace Square

Horse Carriage at Palace Square

Russian Girls at Palace Square

Russian Girls at Palace Square

When I was at the Palace Square, a few Russian teenagers asked me whether I’m an American? haha… I thought it was funny and I replied “nope! I’m from Zimbabwe!” haha… It was fun chatting and knowing them. One of them was learning English and she wished to practice it with me. It was fun interacting with the Russians! 🙂

The friendly Russian teenagers

The friendly Russian teenagers

7) Midnight Sun In St Petersburg

The Russians call the midnight sun as “White Nights”. It was an incredible natural phenomenal and experience for me to witness the luminous northern midnight sun in St Petersburg! Besides, I caught the Northern Lights in Iceland on a separate trip, so I am really fortunate! 🙂

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

The Russian absolutely loved the white nights aka midnight sun! During this time of the year, there will be heaps of festivals and celebrations. Basically, the night never sleeps! I strongly suggest you make sure your hotel room comes with thick curtains if you visit during this period! Just to ensure you have a good sleep. 🙂

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

Midnight Sun aka White Night of St Petersburg, Russia

Please Continue In Part 2 –> http://www.travelinspiration360.com/look-behind-wall-st-petersburg-russia-part-2

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain

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By | 2016-11-30T11:50:09+00:00 September 10th, 2014|Europe, Russia|Comments Off on A Look Behind The Wall of St Petersburg, Russia (Part 1)

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