As I got ready for my day today the girl at the hostel warned me about a tsunami arriving in the afternoon.
34 Russians were checking in to the hostel!
Yikes! My quiet and peaceful 12 bed dorm which only had 5 of us in it last night is about to get overrun.
At least they’re just here for the one night…
Anyway, part of hostel life I guess – the unexpected invasion of Russia.
Anyway, I left the hostel around 10am to join a 10:45 free walking tour.
On the way I stopped for breakfast at a little crepe cafe down the street.
One savory chicken crepe and fresh squeezed orange juice later and I was on my way to the tours’ meeting point.
We met at the historic Palace Square in front of Alexander Column.
The walking tour is actually done through the same company as the amazing one I did in Moscow so I had very high hopes.
Maybe too high hopes…
Here’s a tip if you’re a guide on a walking tour – if you’re still at your starting point 30 minutes into the tour, you’re talking way too much.
It wasn’t even useful information for the most part. It was just babbling on and on kind of like when I did the tour in Kiev last week.
Pretty quick into it I kind of tuned the guide out and just was using the group to lead me to the landmarks so I could take photos.
Oh well, it can’t all be gold.
By the way, just because I gloss over the tour doesn’t mean I didn’t see some great things. You can find those photos in the photos link above.
I ended up leaving early and headed back to the same crepe place for lunch.
This time I got a “combo” meal for about $4 – a bowl of Borscht, Russian salad, a savory chicken crepe and another jam crepe for dessert.
Pretty sweet deal for 4 bucks!
I arrived back at the hostel around 4pm and I was wiped out. My feet were still killing me but I’ve also got another tickle in my throat again.
Although it’s 16C here the wind makes it much colder. I try to bundle up and wear my toque (beanie for all you non-Canadians) but it’s just not enough and I can feel the onset of another cold.
As I sat in my bed relaxing in a completely empty room I was suddenly invaded by those aforementioned Russians.
Thankfully they just claimed their beds, dropped their stuff off and headed straight back out. This might actually work out all right if they just stay out all night. Hopefully they’re not too loud when they all come back in the wee hours.
After they left I ended up just taking a nap and not waking up again until 7:30.
Earlier in the afternoon I was looking at booking a ballet ticket online for tomorrow afternoon. As with when I tried to book my Kremlin ticket online a few weeks ago, my foreign credit card was declined.
I decided I’d walk over to the theatre and purchase the ticket in person as the building is only a couple of blocks from my hostel.
There was also a restaurant near it that I had put on my list of places to eat before I left for my trip so I was going to go there for dinner while I was at it.
I found the theatre building all right but couldn’t find the entrance. I ended up pulling open a door to a little security office where the woman spoke no English (of course).
After she radioed to someone else she showed me a piece of paper that had English instructions for how to get to the box office from there. I guess I haven’t been the only one to stumble into that door.
The woman at the box office also didn’t speak English but I had planned for that so I pulled out my netbook and showed her my attempted online booking completely down to the actual seat I wanted.
The seats range from 1000 rubles to 3500 rubles ($20-$70) for the matinee and this time I chose the cheapest seat available.
The complete feeling of joy washed over me as my mission to get the ticket was accomplished.
I’m going to see a Russian ballet tomorrow!
Time to celebrate with a nice meal.
Before my trip I had written down things info about each city I was going to visit.
Part of that info was what food to eat and where to go to eat it. Most of that info I had gleaned from different blogs or Trip Advisor entries.
I actually had no idea why the Stray Dog restaurant was on my list of places to eat (it was actually the only place on my list for St Petersburg) but I went in there anyway.
The place was actually empty but, hey, it had to be on my list for a reason so I sat down anyway.
The menu had a pretty wide selection. Obviously it was more expensive but, hey, it was a real meal.
Because I’m fighting a cold I decided to start with a latte and some meat soup.
On the menu it said Russian Meat Soup so you can imagine my surprise when I saw the bits of hot dog in there.
Whatever, it was still hearty if not a little bizarre and I really needed something hearty for my sore throat.
Next I order the Beef Stroganoff cause, well, it’s Russian. The waiter asked if I wanted a side with it which I thought was strange as the price for the stroganoff was 460 rubles ($10).
I order a side of rice anyway at a price of 100 rubles ($2)
When my dinner came out I couldn’t believe how small the portions were.
The stroganoff itself was about the size of an open hand and the rice was the size of a closed fist.
A stark contrast to that full meal I had for lunch for $4.
The total bill came out to 1200 rubles ($24) and they also automatically added a 15% tip to the bill.
Anyway, so yeah, that dinner cost me $27.
Was it worth it? No, of course not. I actually had to stop at the supermarket later on to grab a nibble to eat before bed.
But, hey, it’s a story to tell anyway.
I just wonder what kind of people were raving about this place so much that it made me put it on my list.
Damn rich people!
Oh, who am I kidding… I’m just jealous I’m not one of them…
After dinner I went to a pharamcy to get some more cough tablets. Everything was behind glass cases so I actually took a photo of the box I wanted and then when I got up to the cashier I just showed her the photo.
God, I’m so resourceful!
By 9:30 I was back home.
Three Russians came in to the room and I offered them each a mini Kit Kat bar from a bag I had bought at the market earlier.
Holy crap! What a great ice breaker!
Who woulda thunk that Kit Kat would be a universal language!
Anyway over the next hour and a half we sat and talked using Google translate.
Daniil and Andrey would speak into their phone in Russian and I’d wait to hear the English translation and then I’d type my reply into my Google translate on my netbook.
It was actually a great time as we tried to communicate with each other using technology – one of my favorite times on any of my trips and that’s saying alot.
So, even though I’d didn’t really do any huge thing today I actually had one of my more memorable days because it was the sum of alot of little adventures along the way.
Maybe that’s the way travelling should be…