Saturday, 23 June 2007

Day 5 - St Petersburg

Having done quite a bit of walking the day before we decided to take things a bit easier today and make the full use of the metro tokens we'd purchased. The plan was to initially do all the walking for that day along Nevksiy Prospect and then head back to Divo Ostrov.

A bronze owl that reminded me of that stupid bird from Clash of the Titans.

Kazan cathedral again, with a bit more light this time. The fountain was a bit weedy.

I took this picture for two reasons, one to show how easy it was to read Russian. We all know that this is a Baskin's Robbin, so you can use that knowledge to convert the language (a "c" is an "s" for example). The second reason for taking this pic is because this was the only location where Keith spoke words that sounded the slightest bit Russian, even if it was unintelligible.

At this point we're heading up the Gribodev Canal towards a famous cathedral.

Although a club, that explores the concept of alcohol may have been just as worthwhile a destination.

This is the charmingly named "Cathedral of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood". It makes reference to Alexander II who was killed where the cathedral now stands. Its not apparent whether he died when it fell on him or not. It was built in 1883 by Alexander III (yep his son). Actually he died when a protester threw a grenade at his carriage. He survived that but got out to complain with the guy who threw the grenade. An accomplice then threw a second grenade and took him out with that. Quite amusing story I think.

A rare shot of me behind the camera in front of the camera. Don't I look stylish with the cap peak facing backwards. In my defence it's impossible to take portrait shots with the camera any other way.

The detail in this building is amazing and I think to be honest I preferred this to St Basils for that reason.

A tiny church just across the street from the cathedral, and even this looks cool.

A HDR photo of the cathedral.

Some graffiti close by. It wasn't commonplace but this building, which appeared to be student lodgings was heavily covered. They must have got bored.

There were quite a lot of these Joy Division stencils around this part of St Petersburg. I don't understand why; I could see no obvious correlation between the two.

The Kazansky Bridge which is where the Nevskiy crosses the canal. The city does have boat tours of the waterways and we were hoping to go on one but we couldn't find any in English and didn't fancy being barked at in Russian for the duration. I was also perplexed as to how any boat tour would be able to get under this bridge. As it turns out they don't, being the lowest bridge in the city all boats are banned from attempting to get under it. Boat Limbo anyone?

Another fancy church

This photo is taken from the Green Bridge and the Moika River. It was the first cast iron bridge in the city. In previous guises it was also called the Police Bridge and the People Bridge. This reminds me of the canals in Amsterdam, if a little wider.

After a quick respite of coffee, flavoured teas and fancy pastries we decided to head into the Winter Palace.

3 different sizes of soldier!

The entrance to the Winter Palace had a temporary display of painted lions, similar to the painted bears in Berlin and the cow parade that has been to many cities.

The Winter Palace used to be the Winter home of the Tsars, hence it's name (the heating bills must have been something!). There are a number of Summer Palaces around St Petersburg, not sure about Autumn and Spring ones though. There are over 1000 rooms open to the public, most of which are showing off art in some form or another. This makes it one of the largest museums in the world and as we could easily spend all day in there decided to go for a couple of hours instead.

Quite stunning, and on par with the Vatican in terms of quality.

This is the military gallery that celebrates the heroes of the 1812 War with the French (Napoleon got his butt kicked).

No idea who any of these guys are, except perhaps for that guy along the top. He's older than I thought!

I'm sure I'd seen this somewhere before but can't think where.

An ornate bird bath....probably.

Don't step on the cracks.

Having had enough of culture for the afternoon it was time to head off towards Divo Ostrov again but we'd walk to another station rather than spend more time underground than we needed to. Jeppe was also getting sunburnt on his head so we decided to look for a cap.

Woohoo, some real Faberge eggs and they weren't actually that expensive.

Some of these ridiculously sized vodka bottles actually cost more.

Another Yoda tourist attraction. I told you the Russians liked him. I really have no idea why though.

By now my reading of Russian was getting quite good. I could tell that this was the technology part of the city's university! It just looked like such an old cold-war administrative building that I had to take a picture of it.

In an attempt to stay awake Keith brings a bit of the Mambo to the streets of St Petersburg!

We inadvertently came across this shopping centre so didn't expect to have a problem getting Jeppe his cap.

Yup, real fur and that was all they sold. If a similar place opened in London I'd give it a week before it was firebombed.

In Russia toy shops sell replica fire arms. Again, not something you'd get back home.

The top floor of the mall had a cinema complex, the idea of seeing a movie dubbed in Russian didn't appeal, especially when we'd seen how bad their dubbing of TV shows was. For some odd reason they show Hollyoaks in Russia but its not dubbed, just subtitled.

This shopping complex had a number of fish tanks out on display but there weren't any fish shops here. I can only imagine they were here to calm shoppers down. Put this in a shopping complex in the UK and it'd be smashed in in no time.

Strange costumed girl was the only thing in Russia that reminded me of Tokyo, not that I was looking for similarities. We successfully got Jeppe his hat and as there was station next door we decided to head to Divo.

Now the company I work for used to have a segment in their company newsletter where employees would send in pictures of company carrier bags in strange places ("here's me with a carrier bag at the top of K2" etc). So here's my entry. The woman on the right has a Sainsbury's Bag for Life in her possession.

Deep deep escalators and I'm actually half way up when I took this.

Anyway, we eventually got to Divo Ostrov again and as there was no concert today we had a much easier and cheaper entrance into it.

The green pyramid building that was closed yesterday was open today. There was supposed to be an indoor coaster in here, but it had been stripped out and replaced with a shooting dark ride, which was actually pretty decent.

For the record I think Jeppe scored highest on that.

I liked the topiary in this park, which hedges and plants turned into absurd animals.

The biggest crowd today was at this spinning ride. These things always give me bruised shoulders so I wasn't going to ride it today..

A cute fire engine themed attraction where kids put out plastic flames with water cannons.

Big Russian Mountain was running again and as exactly on the day before, when we chose to ride it it rained. Fortunately it was nowhere near as bad as the day before, we were able to open our eyes this time.

The bungee catapult was working today!

Now this is quite bizarre. What appears to be a normal dodgem attraction actually isn't that at all.

I don't know if it was designed for midgets or if the roof had collapsed but there was a foot between the floor and the ceiling, the dodgems were mini ones. I really couldn't figure this out at all.

The biggest collection of rocking machines in one place I think. If the club ever came here you just know we'd end up taking over this patch and riding everything at once.

Divo Ostrov sits within Primorskiy Park and at the end of that very long road sits the Olympic Stadium used in the 1980 games.

This is the "goodbye" sign to the park. Does the lettering look familiar at all?

We were feeling quite bold with the traveling now so I suggested visiting something a little further out. Park Yulya is a park situated in the Northern suburbs of St Petersburg. It was only reported to have a caterpillar but having found a couple of unlisted rides in Moscow we thought we could check it anyway. It also gave us an opportunity to head away from the touristy bits to see a real bit of Russia, that tourists don't usually see. The route to the park had been too awkward to bother following some flooding of the metro line (we'd have had to go metro, bus, metro). But in the week before we flew out it had been sorted and the line reopened.

This is the rather ominous site that greeted us at Grazhdanksity Prospekt station. Scary looking tower block!

It was clearly a residential area and not the most prosperous. We decided that we weren't going to stay here any longer than we needed to be.

Now this was where the park was supposed to be, at least based on the research I'd done before flying out. Instead we had a massive DIY superstore in its place.

and next door was this abandoned cinema building being used by skateboarders to practice their ollies and kickflips (badly I might add).

There was some open land behind it, but no sign of the park.

I consoled myself by getting this shot of some nice graffiti'd shadows.

As it turns out, when the DIY place bought the land they agreed to move the park a mile up the road and it has now been relocated a few blocks away. We didn't figure this one out, a couple of the other groups that were also visiting realised and by the time we'd been told we'd left the country and were in Estonia getting drunk.

Where we went and where we should have gone.

It's not very clear in this pic but the clock is showing that its after 11pm at night and it's still light. This time of year is referred to in St Peterburg as the White Nights, and is often a time when lots of evening activities take place, like the Elton John concert. We chose to just sit back and relax in the coffee bar.

Some more random graffiti up the road from our hotel.

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