St. Petersburg Information

Old Nov 1st, 2000, 02:40 PM
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St. Petersburg Information

I have been thinking about a trip to St. Petersburg, but recently a friend, who visited Russia 6 years ago, said he found it to be rather run down and depressing. <BR>He didn't have kind words about the Hermitage <BR>either. Has anyone been there recently? <BR>
Old Nov 2nd, 2000, 12:52 AM
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Just got back yesterday ... how you view the city depends on your expectations. I go regularly - it's not depressing at all - as for run down, it's true that there isn't the investment there that may be hoped for, but it's truly a beautiful city and very worth visiting. There's been a lot of renovations in the city center, especially since six years ago. I can't imagine not being impressed by the Hermitage - again, maybe depends on expectations. While it may not have modernized exhibition space, the building (and its history) itself is worth a visit, and that's not to mention the world-class collection. You could easily spend several days just in the museum! Must sees include the very impressive St. Isaac's Cathedral (one of Europe's largest), the Russian Museum (to view the work of painters hardly known in the West), the newly renovated and unique Church of the Spilt Blood for amazing mosaics, and, weather permitting, a boat ride along the canals. Then there are all the palaces outside the city, in various stages of repair - my favorite is Pavlovsk, though many visitors opt for the fancier Peterhof. For 20th century history buffs, you can also visit the Potemkin and Smolny, and a visit to Peter Paul fortress is also worth the time. In short, it wouldn't be hard to fill a week of busy sightseeing. There are also numerous decent restaurants in St. Petersburg - including the fancy Noble's Nest at the Yusupov Palace. Hotel choices have also improved, with the old-world Grand Europe or the Astoria, and the comfy (if predictable) Sheraton Palace. Then there's the quick and convenient one hour flight to Moscow ...
Old Nov 2nd, 2000, 03:06 PM
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Peter.........if you decide on going and want to save on the HIGH hotel rates, contact me directly. I rented an apartment in St. Petersburg for 2 weeks @ $65.00 US per night......a wonderful clean two bedroom about a 25 minute walk from the Hermitage. I will send you the website and all info.
Old Dec 19th, 2000, 08:13 AM
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We were there this past October (2000). I completely agree with your friend's sentiments, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth visiting. <BR> <BR>The city itself is rather run down. Walking along the street, the buildings are so beautiful that you want to stop and stare, but if you do you run the risk of being covered in falling paint flakes. We found it rather sad, and were much, much more impressed with Moscow, which has been much better maintained. Again, overall we did love the city, however, we wouldn't recommend someone extend their trip to see it . . . if it weren't for the Hermitage. <BR> <BR>I suspect that your friend felt the same way I do - that the Hermitage is a must-see museum, with true treasures of the art world, but that it is in a depressing state of disrepair and apparent apathy. (Apathy and budget are not the same thing, I know – hence the “apparent.”) <BR> <BR>That being said, it didn't detract at all from our enjoyment of the art collection, which is unbelievable in its depth, breadth, and contribution to Western culture. In fact, it gave me a feeling of being among a very select group of people in the entire world allowed to view the world's art treasures in a private collection . . . in a remote castle (it was a bit drafty). A much nicer feeling, really, than from the Louvre, which has a very Serious Museum feel. <BR> <BR>The vibe at the museum (and indeed in the city itself) would probably be vastly different at another time of year. As I mentioned, we visited in October, when it was very cold and overcast, and there were few tourists. It made it nice to wander around without bumping into a million other Americans, but I'm sure it added to our impressions of the Hermitage as being cold (literally and figuratively) and neglected. <BR> <BR>Sorry to ramble on for so long, but your friend's comments really struck home. We thought the exact same thing, and were surprised that we did. Everyone (guide books included) goes on at length about how beautiful St. Petersburg is, and we were left with the impression that it was a dying city. Once again, that doesn't mean it's not worth the visit. Just a bit different from what the guidebooks say.
Old Dec 20th, 2000, 05:39 AM
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Pete - <BR> <BR>I agree with Karen. We spent five days there in late May/early June this year and had a great time. True, the city and its monuments are not all in great repair - not such a surprise, I guess - but we didn't find it depressing at all. <BR> <BR>The city itself is beautiful, spread on the banks and islands of the Neva (though the housing developments on the outskirts truly ARE depressing). There is plenty to do. In fact, five days weren't enough; we didn't get to do everything we wanted. Karen hit most of the high spots, but I'll suggest the palaces and parks at Tsarkoe Selo, the Nevsky monastery and Smolny convent, too. <BR> <BR>Go, but go when it's warmer and the days are long. A boat ride at midnight on the canals is cheap and fun. The city celebrates the anniversary of its founding with fireworks and street parties each year. Perhaps that would be a good time to go. <BR>
Old Dec 20th, 2000, 06:25 AM
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I agree with Karen. St. Petersburg is a great place, and I would be there in 2 seconds if I could find a comparable job. I could always find tons to do and see.

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