Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Red Arrow To St. Petersburg

I'm back.
While Betty Lou's post was a bit terse, it was due largely to hunger and fatigue. Had i written it would have been even shorter and possibly filled with expletives.
First of all: the train. Wow. We arrived at the train station on a dark and rainy night and found the Red Arrow waiting for us in all of its crimson splendor (yeah, Alan, i do go on, but as i recall you pay me to write for your newspaper, so it can't be THAT bad). The train was beautiful and our car was spectacular. It was very Orient Express, with lovely curtains and crisp linens, etc. We had a table and two bench seats which folded into beds. The table was set with our breakfast which included bread, meat, cheese, yogurt, juice, water, tea, chocolate and caviar. We also were offered a complimentary cocktail (we opted for juice). There was also two complimentary toiletry kits with slippers, eyemasks and the like. The ride was smooth, but just "clickety clack" enough to be soothing and remind us that we were in fact on a train.  We slept peacefully and awoke in time to witness our arrival in Saint Petersburg while we breakfasted.

Red Arrow interior
Saint Petersburg.
We caught a taxi to our new abode: The Puppet Theatre Hostel. It is really more of a pension-style hotel than a hostel. our room is on the fifth floor. We have beds, a desk, and wardrobe and we are in the same hall as the breakfast room. I am pleased to report that the bathrooms, while shared, are equipped with hot water. I think it was the most enjoyable shower i have ever had.
Puppet Theatre Hostel

Saint Petersburg is quite unlike Moscow. It is very beautiful - more European feeling than Soviet. It is built on and around many rivers and every turn reveals a beautiful bridge or palace or cathedral. There are many signs in English here and far more people speak it as well. The whole city is just very manageable. Also, while in Moscow, we rode the Metro constantly, here we can walk nearly everywhere.
Yesterday the weather was lovely and warm and we sat on a patio and had coffee, and i enjoyed a Hoyo Epicure No.2.
Church of the Spilled Blood

After that, we walked all around the city...for nearly nine hours. We went to the famous Cathedral of the Spilled Blood, an Armenian Church, walked Nevisky Prospekt, lunched at the Literary Cafe (where Pushkin supped before heading off to meet his fate in a duel). Betty Lou bought a small balalaika at souvenir market. We also visited St. Isaac's Cathedral - one of the largest in Europe. It was quite spectacular and allows one to climb a set of winding stairs up to the outside of the cuppola, where you can walk the perimeter and take in breathtaking views of the city. Betty Lou made it about 90% of the way up and froze. I had to coax her up, as there was no going back the way she came. Who knew she was so afraid of heights? I don't know that she enjoyed that particular experience, but i was proud of her for making it to the top.
St Petersburg canal
After all that we were quite exhausted.
....Ok, i am about to run out of time on this computer so i must post this. Will return shortly.
Dale in St Petersburg

No comments: