While I plan my trips, I always do some research to learn more about the destination and to plan accordingly. This time was different. Even though St. Petersburg was on the top of my travel bucket list, I had exams, my best friend visiting from Peru and luckily for me, my mom had already planned the trip. The days flew by and suddenly I was on the plane on my way to St. Petersburg. It felt a bit contradictory to me that I knew nothing about the city that I had wanted to visit for so long. In retrospective, I can say that it was better like that, no expectations.
We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. On the way there, I was silent, looking out the window and sinking everything in. We had been in Helsinki before St. Petersburg, in comparison, this was completely different. The city changed from the outskirts as we moved toward the city center. The closer to the center, the more European influence you could see. The pinkish and yellowish pastel colors of the buildings reminded of the center of Lima.
After we settled in at our hotel, we went out to dinner and suddenly the city had been transformed into this magical place, perfectly illuminated. The craziness of the city center had disappeared and it was perfect for a walk (except that it was still freezing cold!). We began to discover bars and shops that were hidden behind the grand architecture of the buildings.
We had two days to walk around and explore on our own and then two days planned with a tour guide. We were lucky to have an amazing tour guide who knew everything and this is how we discovered that the city is a living museum. The tsar Peter the Great created St. Petersburg after he was betrayed in Moscow and wanted to create a new city that had no Russian influence. Every palace and building designed during that time was designed by a European architect. He wanted to show the world the magnitude of the Russian empire and I have to say, at least to us, he achieved this goal. Every palace and museum is enormous, when you are surrounded by the the chandeliers, vases and sculptures, ever you feel like a little ant.
One night we went to see the ballet, Giselle at the Mikhaylovsky theater. We were extremely tired after walking around all day and it was a cold night, but we managed to put together our energy and go. It was magical. The live music and the dancers mesmerized me.
I could go on and on about St. Petersburg and of course 4 days were not enough but at least they were enough to fall in love with this historic city. If you have time, try to visit the summer palaces outside the city, they are something else, especially if you go in the summer and can enjoy the gardens they have.
I hope we can come back one day.
There are so many that you have to pick. These are the ones we chose.
- Church of Spilled Blood or Church of resurrection: it was built on the site were tsar Alexander II was wounded and later died at the Winter Palace. It is an amazing Russian style church, worth going inside.
- The Ballet at the Mikhaylovsky Theater: Giselle
- Pavlovsk Palace: is the palace that Catherine the great built for her son, Grand Duke Paul. It’s a “smaller” palace and has a beautiful garden that you can appreciate if you go near the summer.
- Fabergé Museum: to me it was a fascinating museum. I did not know the story about the Fabergé easter eggs, it was tradition that the tsars gave them as gifts to their wife and / or daughter on easter. They are beautifully designed and also technically modern.
- Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace
- Hermitage Museum or Winter Palace of Catherine the Great: this is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world and is made up of 6 buildings: winter palace, small hermitage (where Catherine had her private art collection), old hermitage, new hermitage and hermitage theater. They have 3 million art pieces and only show 5% of them as the permanent collection. The rest of the art pieces are stored and brought out as new exhibitions to keep the museum relevant.
- Terrassa – it has all type of international food and a very nice rooftop view.
- Goose Goose – Amazing italian food and really good atmosphere for dinner.
- Ribeye – it’s in the same building as Terrassa and it has really good meat. Also, it’s very fun because the waiters and waitresses are artists so they put on mini shows.
- Azia – Asian cuisine, loved it!
- Podvorié – Russian cuisine, really good!