Estonia | Russia | Week One
Co-written by Christina and Hattie
"Zdrasvooytye" from Russia! We've got to the end of the first week of our 21 week adventure. Having a great time so far and the mothers will be pleased to hear that we're not too chilly. In fact Estonia and Russia are having a positively mild winter. The scenary is beautiful in the snow and the architecture in St Petersburg is breathtaking. Our hostels have been clean (good for Christina!), homely and great for cooking. Only downside is the booming club downstairs and the snorers that are plaguing our rooms!
Arriving in Tallinn
We arrived in Tallinn last Wednesday after an early start but smooth journey (thanks to John for the impossibly early start and lift to the airport). Christina had an awful cold which wasn't a great start and bags were heavy but we dropped them at the hostel and still managed a great afternoon strolling around the Old Town.
Our time in Tallinn was limited but we made the best of it with a FREE tour which was quirky, informative and gave us a great pointer in the direction of giant, delicious, garlicky pancakes, yum.
The afternoon found us stumbling upon the Depeche Mode tribute bar. The slightly surreal echoy cellars and large video screens created a real atmosphere, transporting you to a live DM gig. What can we say ... Christina's a convert.
We had plenty of Euros to use up from kind contributions and our holiday leftover change. So starting very much as we don't mean to go on we treated ourselves to a delicious curry in the evening at a curry house overlooking the town square.
On to St. Petersburg...
From Tallinn we took the overnight bus to St Petersburg. Another smooth journey, and the border crossing was fairly straight forwards. Arriving early for check-in, we snuck in a good nap before heading out to explore. Our body clocks mildly confused with travelling and the dark morning (it gets light at about 11am), we set off to soak in the Russian culture. St Petersburg is truly beautiful in the snow, and in the dark it takes on an even more enchanting appeal.
Most of our days in St. Petersburg have been spent taking photos (lots of them), exploring local landmarks, and marvelling at frozen waters around the city. Keeping to a low budget we've generally been having a late brunch and get out around 12ish most days, leaving us until early evening to return and cook our veggie feasts for dinner. We don't think the other guests will miss the smell of garlic once we've departed... although we won't miss our snoring friend on the opposite bunk either.
Whilst the visit has been relatively short in the grand scheme of things we have managed to get quite settled, making friends with the semi-permanent residents and staff, but are excited for the next stages of our journey.
Local site-seeing in St. Petersburg
- Church on spilled blood
- The Hermitage Museum
- Peter and Paul Fortress
- Nevskiy Prospect
- Armenian Church
- (and lots of other beautiful buildings and monuments along the way)
A highlight of our trip so far has been heading out to the Gulf of Finland. We took the train through St Petersburg's suburbs and summerhouses (quaint and christmassy in themselves) to Repino on the coast. Arriving at Repino railway station seemed like the middle of nowhere. Our Garmin helpfully pointed us in the direction of the coast which was a real treat and only a short walk from the station.
The frozen coastline was incredibly dramatic. It had a desolate feel with deserted volleyball nets and sun parasoles surrounded by deep white snow going all the way out to the frozen sea. It was spectacular.
We took lots of photos, and photos of each other taking photos... and then went to look at our photos over a hot drink at an empty cafe on the beach. We did a lot of walking around which landed us nearly getting attacked by a guard dog and then took a short walk back to the station.
Tonight we'll be heading on to Moscow on our first overnight train journey. There'll be many more to come...
Signing out for now,
Christina & Hattie