RUSSIA 2016

RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
RUSSIA 2016
Everyone says to go to St. Petersburg instead of Moscow. It's prettier. Hipper. Cooler.

So we did. =)

Hopped on a cruise ship from Helsinki around 6pm.
13 hours later, we're in St. Petersburg.

Gotta see what the hype is all about! Plus, it's a lot simpler to get a last minute '72 hour No Visa' to St. Petes than having to go through the whole process of obtaining an actual Russian visa. It's no secret that it's probably one of the more laborious visas to get as an American, and as I understand, for other Internationals as well. I know, I know. I can't say much as the same lengthy process goes for anyone applying for a visa to The States. But I'm a spoiled American. It's rare for us to go through actual paperwork! Especially one with many requirements!

Anyways, y'all know this already!

So, yah, Russia. Freaking Russia!! I can't believe we're actually here! This was one of those countries that deeply mystified me as a child, having grown up in the Cold War era. You learn things in Social Studies and seen stuff on TV. Then one day in 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed (which I also saw in real time on TV), igniting a domino of events that led to the eventual demise of the USSR. I was 9 then.

St. Petes surprisingly looks so European. I was expecting something more gray and drab. It's anything but that! This city is colorful and trendy and hipstery. Honestly, it didn't feel like we were in Russia. Aside from the ubiquitous Cyrillic signs and the Russian food finds and the historical sites dotting the city and the occasional older gen cashiers with limited English vocab, it's really quite modern here in every way. Still a joy to walk around and explore, nonetheless. I'm sure if we traveled outside the city, we would get more of an authentic Russian experience. Need more time. Need that Russian visa!

And just when I thought our hostel experience couldn't get any better - in comes Soul Kitchen Hostel! Easily topping Jincent's Top 5 Hostel list! In St. Petersburg of all places! This hostel has unmatched personality that sets it apart from all the other Boho hostels we've stayed at. Beyond clean and spacious, well designed, unlimited tea and coffee, awesome balcony views of the Neva river, TONS of eclectic decor prettiness. Seriously. Quaint kooky art explosion for the eyes - everywhere you look! This is also where we unexpectantly ran into the same fellow Houstonian traveler again! We've met Omar in Lithuania a couple of weeks earlier, and as fate would have it, again at the best hostel ever. He described the place as 'boutique'. Yah, that's the perfect word for this place!

Now I'm more than ever determined to come back to Russia to do it justice. Would love to get to know the real Russia and ride the epic Trans-Siberian Railway!

Hello and Bye, for now, from Russia ... with love!

--


When: July 2016
Temp: 60-70F
Cities: St. Petersburg
Stay: Soul Kitchen Hostel. ~1312RUB/night for 4 bed dorm. Unlimited tea and coffee. They provide a map with great food recs.
Recommend: Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines.


-jin-