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September 27, 2017

St Petersburg

I'd heard a lot about how beautiful St Petersburg is so I was quite excited to visit. As usual when my expectations are high, I was slightly disappointed (it's probably not a fair assessment of the city though - I came down with travellers diarrhoea here, which marred my experience). Compared to Moscow, it's much more compact - it has a defined centre and old town, which we didn't really leave - and the architecture is much more western European. Peter the Great, who founded it, loved all things European and drew inspiration from places like Amsterdam. Possibly because I've been to several western European cities, I didn't find it overly special. I can still see why people visit, and it's definitely much more touristed than Moscow, with a lot of people visiting it as part of a Baltic Sea cruise or tour. I also noticed that people here are a bit more arty and hipster, as opposed to Moscow's glam.

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.

A pretty glass dome belonging to a department store.

Crossing bridges over the Neva river. St Petersburg is famous for bridges, which in the summer are raised overnight to let larger ships through. We tried to see them raised, but on the one night we went out they were all still down for some reason, and that was the last night we were there. Oh well.

That island to the left is Peter and Paul fortress, which we had a look around in.

The Winter Palace, now part of the Hermitage museum.

The city is built on a bunch of islands, so there are many canals and bridges.

Watch out for cats! The Hermitage is actually home to a group of cats. They live in the basements and are technically not allowed in the exhibition areas, but sometimes they wander outside. The tradition dates back to the 18th century when they were allowed in the palace to control mice. The public are only allowed down to see them on one day a year.

Awesome door handle inside the Hermitage museum.

Cool chairs. I did a lot of sitting down in the Hermitage. It was day 1 of diarrhoea and I was definitely not feeling up to looking at loads and loads of fine art.

The Kunstkamera museum, which is a natural history museum. It has a lot of interesting anthropological exhibits, but the most popular one is Peter the Great's collection of preserved foetuses with malformations. I didn't want to post pictures of them directly here in case anyone found them upsetting, but you can find them easily on a Google search.

Trying to rest my insides by eating chicken soup. Ignore the fact I chased it immediately with blini (Russian pancakes) with butter and jam (I paid for it later).

The view of the Winter Palace (main building of the Hermitage museum) from the second Hermitage building across the square. That column apparently stands purely from the pull of gravity, without anything holding it to the ground.

I enjoyed this part of the Hermitage a lot more - more modern art, and less overwhelming.

On our last day we went out to see Peterhof, the summer palace. We didn't go inside but walked around the grounds.

It's famous for its fountains.

It was enjoyable but I wouldn't say it's a must-do if you have limited time in St Petersburg.

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