Along a canal.
Horses in front of the Hermitage.

Entering the Hermitage.
September 14, 2006

If I could sum up Saint Petersburg in two words, it would be ‘European city’.

Okay, I know that sounds like a poor description. But my point is that I did not really feel like I was in ‘Russia’…I felt like I was in
any major European city.

The city was extremely easy to get around just by walking and I felt more than safe…even when walking at night back to my hotel
as the streets along the river were filled with people strolling along. And let me just say that St. Petersburg at night is a beautiful
sight. Seeing the Hermitage in all its lit-up glory was gorgeous as well as seeing the other buildings along the river and canals.

Any type of cuisine is at your disposal here. I opted for sushi last night since it had been at least five months since my last meal of
this sort. Oh, was it good!

With the good comes the bad…I am referring to the prices. Anybody who thinks that Russia is a reasonable place to visit better
think again. Prices here rival London…sometimes even
surpass London for something as simple as going to a café to get a drink.

This morning I met Catherine – the girl I am sharing a room with (she was asleep last night when I got back to the room). She is
from Dublin, Ireland and we hit it off right off the bat. We spent the day together roaming the streets of this city. We were ideal
Hermitage-mates since we both enjoyed looking at the details of the different rooms far more than looking at the actual art. The
rooms were absolutely incredible – everything from the furniture to the floors to the walls and ceilings. After all, this was the
former Winter Palace of Tsars…

The rest of the day we just spent on Nevsky Prospect – the main drag out here. This is similar to any of the main streets in any
main European city. Excellent people-watching at not-so-excellent prices.

Before heading out for our night-train, the majority of our group went to an excellent dinner to bid adieu to Saint Petersburg. It was
actually a Russian/Korean restaurant. Sounds weird, I know. Trust me – it was great.

Next stop: the train station in St. Petersburg. We were getting ready for our overnight train to Moscow. This would not yet be our
‘Trans-Siberian’ experience as this was just an express train between Russia’s two major cities. The train station was mind-
blowingly clean and now ranks as one of my favorite that I have ever seen. We didn’t only get spoiled by the station…we also got
beyond spoiled on the actual train. When we entered our little car, there were boxes for each of us with a whole medley of things for
us to eat for breakfast. There was also bottled water and little packets with a toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipe, dental floss, soap
and some other goodies waiting for each of us as well. And all of this was free.

We all just need to get our minds prepared to know that it is going to be
nothing like this on the train rides to come…
Back to Russia.