๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Priviet! Unexpected in beautiful Saint Petersburg

Diary Entry

At 6 a.m. the alarm tells us that it’s time to start our adventure. And that’s after our UAZ for the Russia trip broke down yesterday. We travel to Munich airport to fly to Russia with Aeroflot. At check-in I book us a cheap guesthouse in the heart of St. Petersburg over the Internet. They offer to pick us up at the airport, but no one is waiting for us there.
We get the entry stamps from a grim official after she asks an incomprehensible ั‚ัƒั€ะธัั‚ั‹? (tourist?) three times. ะ”ะฐ, ะดะฐ, ะดะฐ! My Russian already goes that far. Uli can speak a little more because he attended a language course.

Und dann sind wir drin.


The great empire, communism, the Soviet Union, Leningrad (which was temporarily Saint Petersburg), Putin, vodka, fur hats, Cyrillic letters and the stern faces of people compared to whom every piece of granite seemed to radiate far more humor.

I feel like I’m in a forbidden zone, as if every wrong step could lead to a wild James Bond-style chase.

We don’t know where all the people from the plane disappeared to. We get on the lonely shuttle bus that takes us into the city. Not many people accompany us. The trip costs a few rubles, the equivalent of 70 cents. On the trip we meet a digital nomad – a new species of people who give up their homes to work while traveling. Our new friend is a journalist who wants to write his current reports from the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The bus drives through the city and the names of the companies are displayed in large Cyrillic letters. I already know the script a little and can practice right away.

We stop at a metro station to get into the city center. I have never seen such an impressive subway. The splendor of communism still shines here. Large Soviet stars adorn the ornate arches in gold.

We go down to the metro depths of up to 50 meters

The city is really beautiful!

Paying for the train here is also done according to a different principle. There are counters where you buy tokens for journeys. Each token is valid for one journey, no matter where or how long you travel.

We reach the Sataya (ัะฐั‚ะฐั) station in the center and quickly find the address of our accommodation. However, we cannot find the accommodation.

It is a large apartment block, which in some places has massive iron entrance doors. However, there are no doorbells or other signs. Only a number console serves as a doorbell. But where do we have to go? How does this work?

We ask in a stationery shop in the same building. “Ask” means that I repeat the name of the accommodation and hope for a sign of recognition. In vain. Luckily there is a booking confirmation in Cyrillic that I can show. The young woman in the shop dials the corresponding telephone number, but no one answers. She shrugs her shoulders.

With our luggage on our backs, we walk around the block again and through an inner courtyard. The entrance has to be somewhere. Moreover, the house numbers are now different from the address given to us. It has to be here. We are at a loss.

A lady outside the shop notices our helplessness. Without speaking to us, she goes into the shop and talks to the young woman at the cash register. During the conversation, both women constantly look over at us.

The lady seems to have enough information. She goes to the entrance of the building in front of which we are standing and taps around on the number console.

She reaches someone and seems to ask a few questions. After a short while the door opens. The lady nods at us, turns around and leaves. Just like that. Without smiling! We just call out ัะฟะฐัะธะฑะพ (thank you) but she shows no reactionโ€ฆ

Fashion in Russia

As we notice in St. Petersburg and later in the cities, Russian women are very beautiful and always well-dressed. The exact opposite is true for men. It seems to be considered particularly masculine to deliberately ignore any sense of taste and to attract the attention of the ladies with a jogging outfit, jewelry and sunglasses. Maybe it shows irresistible self-confidence to look so bad?

Accommodation with barriers

We enter the building and climb the wide steps of the elegant staircase. Right on the first floor, a nose peeks through the crack of a door that is slightly open but still visibly secured with a chain.

The nose speaks to us in Russian, to which we cannot answer. But since we only have backpacks instead of weapons and do not seem very Russian, the trust seems to be enough to let us in.

I look at a fat young man in a white T-shirt. Uli sees a fat young woman. We can’t agree on what we’re looking at. In any case, she doesn’t speak any English and doesn’t seem to be expecting us.

Google Translator and hands and feet help. Nobody here has ever heard of Bookings.com – at least not you or he. And there is no one else here.

The guesthouse looks like an old, run-down but magnificent apartment of a communist bigwig. The person shows us various rooms and two bathrooms in the hallway. There are no other guests apart from us and no one else apart from our embarrassed, grinning host.

We get a room and when asked if we would rather pay now or later, we answer that if in doubt we would rather wait. We never see him or her again. From the next day onwards we see another man who lives in a storage room and cleans the bathroom for us. But we never see any other guests.

We quickly unloaded our things and hurried to take advantage of the last light of the setting sun and discover Saint Petersburg. The city on the Niva shows itself at its most beautiful as the stately townhouses on the countless canals are bathed in soft orange.

We follow the canals and reach Newska Prospekt. Every big street here is called “Prospekt”.

We pass the Hermitage and reach the Niva with all its bridges. At night, these are gradually opened for ships and are of course exciting for tourists.

Next to a church we see a kiosk. Unfortunately it is already closed, but curiously enough you can buy rifles and pistols here as well as cigarettes. It’s that simple.

The moon is also on our side and shines in full size over the houses. After we have satisfied our initial hunger for photos, it is time for a culinary journey of discovery. However, it is not easy to find a Russian restaurant. Chinese and Georgian in particular seem to be very popular.

Finally we find a good restaurant where we want to try everything.
Food and vodka: Pelmini and fish soup, plov, borscht, solyanka and manti – we order everything.

We follow the banks of the Niva and continue taking photos of the illuminated bridges until we fall tired into bed in our empty accommodation.

Through Couchsurfing I receive an interesting invitation from a young Russian woman to her dacha, far outside of Saint Petersburg.

How can you say no? Uli and I set off the next day.

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