St Petersburg in early
Petersburg , Russia in early December is very cold, however with plenty of snow,
warm clothing it is well worth a short stay break. You are made to feel very welcome
and soon get used to the low temperatures and short days of day light.
in August 2010 when the English summer had suddenly switched off one Saturday
afternoon we went on line and booked two short breaks. The first in late October
in the Czech Republic and the second one in Saint Petersburg at
the beginning of December. We used lastminute.com as they could arrange hotel
accommodation, flights and airport parking at the same time.
was only one problems and that was getting a Visa which is now obligatory for
Euro nationals visiting Russia. It is somewhat complicated, however using the
visa agency RNT was carried out fairly quickly, although for two individuals it
finally cost over £175 including postage and courier costs. These Russian visas
are only valid for a very short period of time and anyone thinking of visiting
Russia must take into account this additional charge.
with two pocket size guide books - Eyewitness Travel and Berlitz we headed off
to London Heathrow Airport. Snow had started falling that week in Britain and
we had no problems in our area on a Wednesday morning. We parked the car, got
on the shuttle and looked up at the flight departure board at British Airway's
Terminal 5 and saw the flight was cancelled.
then had to get in a re-booking queue and the person in front had been trying
to fly out to Moscow the day before and his flight had been cancelled. He had
contacted colleagues in Moscow who found it strange as Moscow Airport was open
had been caught out with plans stuck all over Europe in snow covered destinations.
Apparently they actually park some planes overseas as it is cheaper to do so that
back in south of England. There was no snow at Heathrow, unlike London Gatwick
that was closed because of it.
were issued with tickets for 24 hours later and returned to the car parking at
Quality Airport Parking. The car had only been there around three days instead
of four days, but if we wanted to bring it back in the next day we would have
to pay all over again. We will never use them again!
returning home we contacted the Petro Palace Hotel www.petropalacehotel.com/
to say that we needed to postpone their hotel collection service collecting us
for 24 hours. We also told the hotel we would not be there that night. They immediately
said we would get a refund. A few minutes later they phoned back to say as it
had been paid via lastminute.com they would refund them and confirmation emails
were sent and on our next credit card bill was a credit for one night's accommodation.
They are a very professional run hotel.
next day we set off at the crack of dawn again, this time our son drove us to
the airport and the plane was ready to fly. We left on time at 09.40 and arrived
at 16.00 local time. There is some three hours time difference in British winter
time and local time in St Petersburg at the present time and the Russian Government
is planning on changing their winter time system
arrival we were swiftly driven through snow covered (but well cleared) roads to
the Petro Palace Hotel that is located very close to the famous Hermitage museum
and St. Isaac's Cathedral.
on warm clothing and walking boots we ventured out into the evening to get our
bearings. If you want to use a video camera, ordinary camera or mobile phone,
you can only keep your gloves off for a couple of minutes. One of our guide books
says that Saint Petersburg is only six degrees south of the Arctic Circle and
the most northern city in the world with a population of over one million people.
It is also like Venice with so many canals, however they all start to freeze up
in November and are not free of ice till well into the Spring.
As we had lost 24
hours we started out early on the Friday morning. Mind you it does not get light
till nearly 9.30 and went off walking along Neskiy Prospekt. We stopped at the
Church on Spilled Blood, the Armenian Church and warmed more at Literary Café.
the afternoon we walked through the snow to The Hermitage which is the former
residence of the tsars and is a superb art gallery.
You have to take off your coats and book them in which is very sensible as in
most buildings (like churches and cathedrals) they are very well heated. You can
film in most of the Hermitage.
It was dark by the time we left and had a healthy walk by the frozen river and
found a traditional St Petersburg restaurant
On the Saturday morning following a swim in the Petro Palace's heated swimming
pool and breakfast we ventured out again. It had been snowing a lot, however as
soon as it starts to snow the snow clearance people move in and the city operates
as normal. We went to nearest landmark.
St Isaac's Cathedral. It is officially still a museum and the largest cathedral
in Russia, however there was a service going on in a small chapel. For many years
it had been used for storage and this happened with many churches being used as
moved along the riverside to the Peter and Paul Fortress and experienced the only
time when we felt we had paid over the odds for something. Two small glasses of
local wine costing 600 Rubles or UK equivalent of £12.70. Quite a contrast two
a two course dinner with a bottle of wine on the first night at the Petro Palace
costing 2,280 - £48.00!
A very interesting place with a mint, Boat house,, The Cathedral of the Saint
Apostles Peter and Paul and the Prison of the Trubetskoy Bastion.
In the summer there is a beach outside and people sun bathe there. However in
early December on the walk back we saw someone on the frozen water with a hole
broken in it, sitting there fishing.
We had heard a lot about the very ornate decoration in the underground stations
which are very similar to the ones in Moscow. So with the aid of advice from the
hotel reception set off to find a station on the "red line route". We went along
half a dozen station of this very efficient metro system and got off at each station.
They are certainly well worth a visit.
This was followed by a brisk walk back to the hotel, to collect our belongings
and take the hotel transport back to Pulkovo Airport. After clearing immigration
and security we were able to wander around the duty free shop that is run by Lenrianta
ZAO which is a Russian Irish joint venture which is part of Aer Rianta International.
the airport window out in the snow the British Airways flight was in and fortunately
there were no delays this time.
though it is very cold in winter, it is well worth the experience of seeing this
city at this time of year. Although the holiday was a day short, we still managed
to get a lot in during two and half days.
your visit to St Peterburg, Russia
photos ©jml Property Services February 2011
jml Property Services February 2011