Well, I spent the final few days back in St Petersburg, got the train from Moscow, no issues, from what I could remember it was on time, no dicking around, fair enogu, you had to put your luggage through the conveyor belt security things, but it was pretty straightforward, and it seems pretty normal for train travel here.
I got checked into the hostel when I landed into St Petersburg, got a few beers, then got talking to a few Russians, an Argentinian, an Englishman, some Kiwi girl, everyone got a few beers, and then we headed out to a “club”, basically it looked like some disused building, with a cloakroom, a bar, and DJ playing some cheesey techno, or whatever genre of dance music it was.
Had a good night, felt a bit rough the next morning, actually arranged for a metro tour of St Petersburg, it was great, the tour guide was sound, really informative about the history of Russia, and made me feel at ease. The metro itself, a beautiful place, so many things to see, home to one of the deepest metro stations in the world. Its crazy to think that I passed through one of the metro stops that got hit in April – R.I.P victims of St Petersburg.
I just chilled out that night, as I was leaving on the Sunday. I asked for advice, and it seemed that the metro and a bus was a convenient way of travelling to the airport. It seemed that way, that was until I went to get the bus, and there was no way to pay the driver (I think, with a heavy emphasis on the think, I’ve found out why – it seems that buses have conductors onboard, I’m bit wet behind the ears at times).
I thought – how am I supposed to get to the airport? I seen a young couple, tried to speak to them in broken Russian, kind of gave up, and spoke broken English, and they understood my dilemma, the girl got on her phone, and she and her boyfriend (she said she was from Ukraine, and he was from some part of Russia that was – 50 i.e takes ball freezing to a new level) took me across the road to some McDonalds liveried bus, outside a McDonalds, I think it was the equivalent of 40 pence to get from there to the airport, an absolute bargain considering the distance it covered.
I got checked in, got the connecting flight in Amsterdam, it kind of left me thinking, the hassle of airport security, yes, I get what its for, and why we have to do it but when they spend so much on these new machines, yet you have to go through the rigmarole of taking off footwear, and get a full on pat down, where you have some jobsworth fondling your genitals. I’ll be honest, I’ve been through airport security in many places, been through Schiphol airport security twice, in 2006 and 2017, both times the same shitty experience.
The contrast? when I went through security in St Petersburg, through the same machine, whatever pat down I got, nowhere near as invasive, didnt have to take off your boots, makes you wonder sometimes, why some places are so super tight, yet others are more reasonable.
When I got back home, it was 9 degrees celsius, felt like a heatwave! So warm to what I had been used to in Russia.