For the first time on my trip, I am finally starting to get into the Christmas spirit and it’s all thanks to Saint Petersburg. I had a great four night’s stay in what was my final Russian destination before entering Europe and leaving the East behind.

IMG_5967Christmas Tree outside a Cathedral

Christmas trees and lights were scattered throughout the city and despite the bleak weather, the Christmas cheer was definitely apparent amongst tourists and locals. My hostel, Soul Kitchen Junior, was the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at and I can’t recommend it enough. The staff were friendly and helpful, but the facilities were what made it stand out. The huge kitchen was stocked with free staples like pasta and rice, and importantly free cooking oil! The dormitory beds are double beds and have not one, but two lights and two power points! These might seem trivial, but for those who have stayed in hostels, luxuries like the aforementioned are not afforded by many hostels!

IMG_6069Ice Fishermen on the Neva River

I spent most of my time walking around the city, which is very easy to navigate, and enjoyed just having my iPod on and tuning out from the world! The main attraction in St. Petersburg is the Church of the Savior on Blood and its interior was astounding with a mosaic design, but I still preferred the exterior of St Basil’s in Moscow to this cathedral, which marks the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.  The highlight for me was watching the sunset and the city transcend into darkness from atop St Isaac’s Cathedral – a great 360-degree view over St. Petersburg.

IMG_6137View towards the Hermitage from St. Isaac’s Cathedral

The Five Senses of St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg looks like lights. The sun would rise at 11:00am each morning and set before 5:00pm and when coupled with the bleak weather I experienced, everywhere you went there would be lights on all day – cars, houses and in the street.

St. Petersburg smells like rain. For the first time on my trip it rained and the smell of fresh rain on the bitumen roads was probably the most memorable aroma. This was a tough one.

St. Petersburg feels like I’m comfortable. It was probably because of my hostel, but I met some great people in St. Petersburg and I felt very at home and relaxed in this city.

St. Petersburg tastes like Guinness. I spent one rainy afternoon in an Irish Pub with a friend of mine and I drank Guinness for the first time! I quite enjoyed it and will definitely be doing that again soon!

St. Petersburg sounds like breaking ice. Most of the canals were frozen when I arrived, but the warm weather (3-degree maximums!) caused a lot of the ice to melt and subsequently, the waterways would move the ice and it would break against the bridges with thunderous crashes.

IMG_6036Mosaic Interior of Church of the Savior on Blood

St. Petersburg was a great city to visit and explore by myself, despite being in the middle of winter. Lines for museums and attractions were non-existent and this beautiful city dubbed ‘Venice of the North’ due to its canals is a destination that I will visit again in the future for sure.

IMG_6065Church of the Savior on Blood