I’ll start this bit off, with a word of advice. First things first, always get registered with the first place you stay at, and if needs be, be INSISTENT, and speak clear and concise English, русский, or whatever language you have to speak to the person you are dealing with at the place you are staying at.
Basically, because of this hitch, I had to cancel the trip to Veliky Novgorod, because I wouldve been leaving on the Friday without being registered, so I had to stay a few extra days in St Petersburg, to get it all sorted.
Moving on, my first full day was just walking around, might’ve been slightly aimless, but I seen some nice sights, and seen things that I wouldnt have normally seen. The architecture here is really nice, very eye catching, I know that theres some redskis and bolsheviks out there who probably loathe it, but I think it helps lighten up the place, makes it more charming.
Was it cold? Damn right! If you avoided the wind, it wasnt too bad, as long as you wore thermals, a good hat, a big coat and some gloves. However, when you got closer to the Neva river, it got seriously icy, in terms of feeling cold, a few times you got a chill down the back, my hands felt very numb at times, like I had hypothermia.
As for my face, I thought I was going to need a face transplant, it was that chilly, Got used to it after a few days though.
I seen plenty of things in the city, and although people might think I’m a philistine for not going to any museums, to be honest, I just couldnt be arsed, I thought it would be better to see as many attractions as I could, on foot. In hindsight this was lunacy, as my feet were destroyed by the time I got home, and the subway here, and, I may add, in Moscow, is dirt cheap.
Things I would recommend anyone to see? The usual things, Savior on the spilled blood, St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, Kazan cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress, Palace square, St Isaacs cathedral, there are plenty of other things to see, if you are unsure, google is your friend, its a great aid and help, so much to see and do.
Food wise, I was pretty damn lazy, probably because I could get away with it, if you are from the west, you have your usual McDonalds, Burger Kings, Subways etc, etc. I’m probably ashamed to admit that this is all I ate in my first week, as my Russian was very poor, so bad that when you spoke to a shop/restaurant person in Russian, a lot of the times they spoke back to you in English.
Observations? I was kind of led to believe that St Petersburg would be the most welcoming for westerners, considering that the subway is bi – lingual, but at times it felt like not that many people spoke English, I did get one rude person in a post office, she seemed like a dragon, but in general, people did try to help you, even if sometimes it wasnt of much use.
Seeing so much more ppolice about was, a little intimidating, especially when you went into the main train station, and weree going through metal detectors, but once you got through it, it was okay; different, but as long as you werent acting the maggot you were fine.
I didnt head out to that many bars, because of the language barrier, as far as dealing with Russians in the hostel, it felt like, at first, they were cautious, reserved, but once you got to know them, and got a few beers in them, they were more open, and seemed pretty sound.