Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer in Saint Petersburg

Since my mom and aunt came for my graduation, we decided to have a little trip to Saint Petersburg. (dah alang2 kan). I've personally never been to Saint Petersburg. Alex, my russian friend was shock that I spent almost 7 years in Moscow and never set foot in Saint Petersburg. ahaa... Somehow, there's never enough budget or time to go to Saint Petersburg, since we're more interested in going to Europe. :-p

So, I've decided to go with my mom and aunt.

To tell you the truth, I wasn't completely satisfied with this trip. I did enjoy the time spent with my family but the feeling of travelling with family members are so different with travelling with friends. Family members (especially the elderly) don't really take into account your itinerary and what you want to do. It's a little frustrating really. Plus, they're not used to walking. They keep resting and waste time. Sigh. I was trying so hard to be patient and keep in mind that they're double my age but it was so hard to keep calm and I burst out crying by the street on the last day.

Anyway, lets move on.

28th June 2012

Our flight was at 9:25 in the morning. We left the hostel around 6:30 AM. We decided to take the bus and marshrut to Vnukovo airport, since mommy wants to save the budget. We reached the airport quite early. We had breakfast at a cafe, checked in once the counter was open.

The last time I used Vnukovo airport was 2 years ago and my my how it has changed! I was a bit lost because the airport is fully renovated! Before this, the airport was quite small!

We reached Saint Petersburg Pulkovo airport around 11-ish AM. I can't remember. The flight was short. About 1 1/2 hour or so... Once reached the airport, we took the bus to Moskovskaya Metro Station. Bought some metro passes and made our way to Nevsky Prospekt Metro Station. Our hostel is situated about 10 minutes from the metro. My aunt wasn't really happy that I booked a hostel, although I explained to her that it was a luxury hostel with half the price of a hotel. She thought all hostel was made for backpackers, that is until she saw how the hostel was. She was quite happy with it. Sigh... We stayed at Nevsky Hostel.

So after we freshen up a bit before heading out to the city. First stop; LUNCH! After lunch, we head out to The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. We took photos of the building, and my aunt decided to shop for souvenirs. So we bought some souvenirs. Then we took photos at the Kazan Cathedral. Later, we walked along Nevsky Prospekt (Невский Проспект) and walked into shops along the way. We entered ZARA and did some window shopping. My aunt did some shopping and we got separated. We were searching for her and wondering why she didn't call or sms. When we went down, we saw her looking panic. She had lost her credit card and got notifications from the bank that the card had been used to purchased things for RUB24000 and RUB13000!!!! OMG!!! PANIC!! PANIC!! She immediately called to bank to block the card. She couldn't call the bank directly because she's using prepaid phone. That was the reason she was panicking when she couldn't find us, she had to use my mom's phone.

Having lunch + studying the map 

Nevsky Prospekt

  The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

  The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood upclose

Kazan Cathedral

Then they decided to go to the Police Station. I wished they knew how lazy and unhelpful the Russians are. Even with my ability to converse in Russian. They still weren't helpful. We went to the Police station in the metro which directed us to the Police station on another street. When we went there, we waited for an hour but the officer at the counter only told us to wait for the officer who is in-charge on such cases. 1 hour wasted and I couldn't wait any longer. They told us they would call us but nothing had been done. They didn't even call us the next day.

So we decided to just go somewhere to have a drink. When we were at the restaurant, I asked the waitress if she knew a shop that was written in the notification from the bank. She told us there's one nearby. So we went to the shop and asked if there's anyone who spent RUB24000. She said there can't be, she was there the whole day and no one spent until RUB24000. So I asked her, if there's any other outlet nearby. She pointed at the map and I realized the street was connected to The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. Perhaps my aunt lost her card when she was shopping for souvenirs! The weird thing was, her purse and ATM card as well as one of her credit card weren't missing (Thank Allah!), only one of her credit card, some Ringgit & USD were missing. Lucky she has travel a lot, so she knew to keep some cash separately.

So we went to the next outlet and asked the cashiers but they also said the same thing that there can not be anyone who spent RUB24000 in such outlet. We went to the mobile shop inside the outlet, and asked. The guy said there are people who spent more than RUB20000 everyday. But as I try to get more information, they ignored me. GRRRRRRRRR.....!!! RUSSIANS!!!

Anyway, at that time I was starting to get irritated and frustrated that the time was wasted trying to find the culprit and how rude the Russians were. So I told my mom and aunt to just let it be and continue with our holiday. What a way to start a trip. Sigh....

So then we walked back to The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, bought something to eat kat Kofe Haus, and head back to the hostel. By that time it was already 9:30PM. I wanted to see the Palace Bridge (Дворцо́вый мост) open up at 1:30 AM, but by 12:30AM I was too tired and fell asleep, so was my mom and aunt. So I decided to just go tomorrow.

That was day 1.

29th June 2012

Today we woke up around 11-ish. I guess running around yesterday made us super tired!

After we got ready, we made our way to the Hermitage. We walked for about 15-20 minutes and making stops in the shops along the street. Would have taken 10 minutes if we didn't stop for anything.

Palace Square in front of the Hermitage

Once we reached the Hermitage, we had to queue for almost an hour to buy the tickets before we get to enter, but it wasn't so bad. (Standard la nak masuk museum kena beratur.)

Queue to enter the Hermitage

I was blown away by the beauty and architecture of the Hermitage! The moment we went in, all we can see is gold covered ceilings and lights and arches. Ceilings filled with paintings and humongous chandeliers! All this while, I've been travelling, going into palace museums and none could beat the Louvre in Paris (which I considered to be the most beautiful Palace) until I went into the Hermitage. I'd say they're head to head! Although the Louvre is definitely bigger.

Gorgeous ceiling!

Look at those chandeliers!

More gorgeous chandeliers!

We didn't go to every room in the Hermitage. There is never time to see the whole palace, no matter which castle or palace that you visited. I think we spend for almost 3-4 hours in the Hermitage, just admiring the beautiful architecture and design.

After we had almost enough of the Hermitage, we walked along the Neva River and decided to have a lunch at Kofe Haus. We had a small lunch before walking towards the Peter and Paul fortress. We walked along the Palace Embankment (Дворцовая набережная) and crossed Trinity bridge (Тро́ицкий мост). When we reached the other side of Neva River, we decided to check out the big blue Saint Petersburg Mosque which you can see while crossing the bridge. We got there and took some pictures. Unfortunately the mosque only opens during prayer times, so we didn't get to see the interior.

The Saint Petersburg National Mosque

Entrance to Peter & Paul fortress

Statue of Peter the Great

Along the river

After that, we asked the people around for a halal restaurant, the directed us there which located somewhere at Malaya Posadskaya Street (Малая Посадская улица). We 'tapau' (take away) some plovs and samsa for dinner. Then we made our way to the Peter and Paul's fortress. We didn't go up though because you have to pay to go up the fortress. And just to see the river, we decided to skipped it, since you can basically see the river at any of the bridges. Then we walked along Kronverkskaya Embarkment (Кронверкская набережная), crossed the Birzhevoy bridge (Биржевой Мост) before reaching back to Palace bridge and Nevsky Prospekt. When we reached the Birzhebaya Square (Биржевая площадь) which located between the Birzhevoy bridge and Palace bridge, we saw a lot of people dancing. It was really fun!! Old and young just sweat out Fhin public, dancing tango, flamenco, whatever dance you can think off and having fun with the music playing in the air. This is why I love Europe. They appreciate the free time they have so much and they like to show off their skills. You'd be criticized if you decided to do something like this in Malaysia. ;P

By that time, it was already almost 10PM although the sun was still shining brightly and hot! I could feel my skin getting sunburned. So we decided to return to the hostel and have a rest.

I didn't get to see the Palace bridge open up tonight because my mom and maklang completely went flat after dinner. So I was left feeling disappointed again.

30th June 2012

Today we woke up a bit early to go to Catherine's Palace. We had to take the metro to Moskovskaya metro station, then took the mashrut (some sort of a van) to the Palace. Supposed to cost 50-60rub/ride/person. I don't remember how much I gave for the 3 of us but I was supposed to get the balance.  Somehow I didn't get it and I asked for the balance, I remembered he said something like he'll get us down where we needed to get down thus the extra. So I just let it be. Later when we got there, everyone got down where we were supposed to get down. Yeah, we got cheated. I hate being a tourist sometimes.

Moskovskaya Ploshad'

Entrance to the garden was free for me, but my mom and maklang had to pay RUB100 if I'm not mistaken. I checked on some sites that wrote for students it's RUB50, but I completely remembered I got in free just by showing my student card. Maybe it's RUB50 for oversea students. ;)

 Catherine's Palace

 More queuing!

 Inside Catherine's Palace

 Amber room

 More gorgeous ceilings!

feeling all princess-y!

We spent about 2-3 hours at the Palace & garden. At about 3.30PM, we decided to head back to the city. We waited for the mashrut with the same number that we took from the city, but it never passed by. So we decided to take another mashrut that goes to the train station. Once arrive at the train station, we took the Elektrichka back to the city. One babushka was kind enough to lead us the way. So we bought tickets to Pushkin station and from there we took the metro to Nevsky Prospekt.

The babushka that helped us

We reached back at Nevsky Prospekt around 5PM. Mama & maklang wanted to have lunch, and so did I because we were so hungry, but at the same time I wanted to catch the hydrofoil to Peterhof. After lunch, we head to the hydrofoil port. Unfortunately the last hydrofoil was at 6PM and we missed it. I was heartbroken. Then we tried searching for the Chocolate Museum shop. We head back and forth along Nevsky Prospekt because that's where the Chocolate Museum is and we couldn't find it. Again, I was disappointed. I was so angry at that point with the way things were going. And I couldn't walk fast either. Sigh...

So we head back to the hostel, ate dinner and decided to go to Peterhof early in the morning.

Oh, finally tonight we decided to go and see the bridge! We walked from the hostel at 1 AM. By the time we arrived, the bridge was already opened and there were a huge crowd by the river! I've never seen that many people at this late hours before!! It was like almost 2AM!! If they said, Moscow never sleeps, Saint Petersburg literally never sleeps! Anyway, I was quite happy to be able to see the bridge! haha..

Palace bridge 

Standing on the Palace bridge

The crowds

Crashing a bachelorette party!

1st July 2012

I woke up at 7:30AM and got ready. Mama get ready after me and maklang decided not to follow because she was feeling super exhausted.

Me and mama walked to the hydrofoil port, wasn't a nice morning. It was raining very heavily. Thank God I brought an umbrella! We passed by the Hermitage and some sort of event was going on. We saw people running marathon, and also there was a ski-rollerblading marathon or something. Their skates were weird! I didn't took a picture though because we were rushing.

Once we got at the hydrofoil port, we saw the first hydrofoil is at 10AM!! by that time it was 9AM. There wasn't enough time to even take the metro. So me and mama sat at the bus stop to avoid the rain, and I started crying. LOL! yeah. It was a funny moment for me too. 3 days of frustration just burst up that morning along with the rainy weather. And my mom started consoling me and convinced me that there was still time and we wouldn't miss our flight.

So I went along with her, with strong faith in Allah that we would have time for everything. We went on the 10AM hydrofoil. Reached Peterhof at 10:30AM.  Oh! Hydrofoil costs (for one way) RUB400 for me and RUB600 for mama. When we reached there, people were surround the fountain. I was wondering why people were surrounding the fountain although the fountatin haven't started yet. At 10:30AM, the music started playing at the fountain started from the periphery to the middle. It was magical!!! Oh, now I know why. Aha. So then, we went around the park and took photos.
At 11:30AM we took the hydrofoil back to the city. This time there was a reduction in price because we came with hydrofoil. Costs me RUB200 and mama RUB400. We reached the city at 12PM.

 On the hydrofoil with mama

 The fountain just started

 Farewell, Peterhof!

Some events at Palace Square

When we were walking along the Nevsky Prospekt, I saw the Chocolate Santa Claus holding the "Chocolate Museum" sign. I was excited!! We went it and bought some chocolates! and no wonder we couldn't find it. The shop closes at 7PM! When we walked by it was after 7PM, they kept the Santa inside.

Chocolate Museum Saint Petersburg

 I don't get it. Why wear bridal outfit?

By 1PM, we reached the hostel. We texted maklang earlier to book a cab to the airport. The cab driver arrived at 2PM and we reached the airport at 2:30PM. We checked in, and waited at the terminal. And oh what luck! Our flight delayed for 2 hours. Well, I guess all that luck went to the time we spent at Peterhof.

 A little tea break while waiting for the cab

Delayed flight 

But all and all, I did have a great time. What's important is the time spent with my mom. All she wanted was to come for my graduation. I shouldn't have make a big deal about not having the time to visit all the places.

Goodbye Saint Petersburg!

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