At the end of our day in Helsinki we got on a 14-hour ferry for St Petersburg. This was the surprise part of our trip! Originally we were only going to see Tallinn and Helsinki but then I discovered you can get into St Petersburg without a visa if you arrive by ferry/cruise and you stay for less than 72 hours. You don’t need a visa as your return boarding pass acts as your visa. Sounds really dodgy I know, but I did loads of research and we did it with (mostly) no problems!
I was scared of getting sea-sick after the my last ferry experience crossing the English Channel but the whole trip was very calm and you barely feel the boat move at all! (I still took anti-nausea medication just in case!) Fourteen hours may sound like a long time but it was nice to relax after walking around all day and the best part is you still feel you are ‘traveling’ while reading in your cabin!
The next day we arrived in St Petersburg at 9am in the morning, we took the bus to St Issac’s Square and started walking to our hotel. The hotel didn’t look far on the map, I would have guessed 5 maybe 10 minutes walk? Noooooo the map is on a whole different scale from Helsinki! In Helsinki everything was small and close together but in St Petersburg everything is GIANT, so it may look like it’s only 4 or 5 blocks away but these are Las Vagas sized blocks. It took ages to get to our hotel!Once we ditched our bags we went out exploring, the first stop was The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. Normally I am not a huge fan of churches, after traveling through Europe churches start getting a bit samey. But the Spilled Blood church is different it is colourful and exciting and reminds me of Tetris. It was excellent, the only thing that would have made it better is if they were playing Tetris music in the background.
The rest of the afternoon we explored the city looking at the giant colourful buildings which were ornate inside and outside. The best way to describe the city is impressive – all the buildings were massive and grandiose, it felt like the whole city is shouting ‘LOOK AT HOW GRAND AND IMPRESSIVE I AM!!!’ and you are thinking “Wow everything is so grand here!”. I have never been to a city quite like it! I mentioned how overwhelming and large the city was to the receptionist at the hotel and she just looked at me and said “You have never been to Moscow have you?”. And now Moscow is on my list of places I really want to visit…More photos here