Archive for October, 2010

RST Day 2: snow, sights & shine.

(I started writing this on Saturday, but ended up being pretty fail and only getting around to finishing it today. So references to today actually mean Saturday, rather than Thursday…!)

St Petersburg is cold. I expected cold, but this was cooold! AND IT SNOWED TODAY! Ok, so maybe I have seen falling snow that one time in the Blue Mountains, during Maculty Getaway, but continuous snow falling from the sky was SO AWESOME. I wish I had a better macro lens. :)

Anyway. Today…

Bufffet breakfast.

pastries, egg, sausages, wedges, 'blinis'.

Bus sightseeing tour. But first we had to wait for two people who hadn’t managed to wake up… Then we were on our way. The thing I love about St Petersburg, as well as European cities, is how picturesque everything is. I just want to wrap entire cities up and take them home. Everything back home in Sydney is just too modern and city-like. Nothing is pretty, except maybe some of the older suburbs…

We made a stop at St Isaac’s Cathedral…

st isaac's cathedral.

We passed through a park, where there were lots of people raking up fallen leaves. I have kind of missed deciduous trees while in Copenhagen…


Then we paused for a while to admire The Bronze Horseman, a statue of Peter the Great.

peter the great; senate and synod buildings

After freezing our butts off for a while, we headed back onto the bus and headed towards the Peter and Paul Fortress. Before we got there though, we stopped at the two old lighthouses… where we also froze, but it was exciting because there was REAL snow falling from the sky. Not to mention the numerous wedding photos going on.

red lighthouse, with second one in the back-ish...

Then we finally got to the fortress and headed in to the Peter and Paul Cathedral, but not before being distracted by a band of guards.

guards are super cool.

The cathedral was so elaborate and ornate inside. Many of the past tsars have been buried inside, although much further underground than their tombs might indicate.

peter and paul cathedral; and interior.

l-r: elizabeth i, catherine i, peter the great. (double headed eagle on the corners of the marble blocks indicate that the person buried there was in power at one stage.)

But what I was most eager to see was the final resting place of the last Romanov family: Nicholas II, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana and Maria. Also buried there are a number of the family’s servants. The remains of who are thought to be Alexei and Anastasia were found recently, but are yet to be buried with the rest of their family in the side chapel of St Catherine the Martyr, while DNA testing is being conducted.

the chapel of st catherine the martyr.

We headed outside, by the side of the church, to hang out with Peter the Great’s statue.

peter the great. touch his fingers for luck, apparently?

random building. :)

After our stop at the Peter and Paul Fortress, we took the bus back towards the main part of the city and to the Church of Spilled Blood.

church of spilled blood.

After admiring the onion domes, we headed across the road to the souvenir fair, where Ben found a matrushka doll related to some sport team… but didn’t buy anything. We resolved to go back later.

souvenir fair.

We took a bit of a walk along Nevsky Prospect, the main street through the city of St Petersburg, before catching the metro to Udelnaya to visit a flea market there. When we got there, we stumbled around a bit trying to find the place before we came across what seemed to be the right place. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting though, as the front was made up of a number of stalls that were inside numbered buildings, selling clothes, shoes, but not a lot of random ‘flea market’ type stuff. As we kept walking through, the buildings disappeared, replaced with shelters under which people were displaying piles and piles of clothing. You could tell that things were being sold for bargain prices, but our lack of Russian communication made it difficult t even contemplate buying anything if we had wanted to. Still, it was worth a look.

udelnaya flea market.

We took the metro back to Nevsky Prospect and stopped by at “север”, which the translation of Russian wiki tells me that is one of the oldest patisseries in St Petersburg. We ended up buying an entire cake, because it worked out to be much cheaper than just buying a slice each. It was so good, and creamy and just full of awesome goodness. :)

super awesome cake. :)

After cake we ran into a couple of people and then took a bit of a walk back to the hotel, following the canals. It took over half an hour, but it was a decent walk, and definitely a better
way to see a little bit more than just by simply taking the metro.

walking back to azimut.

Got back to the hotel, freshened up a little bit, got distracted by some random movie that included an outrageous car chase scene with ridiculous violence, then headed down to “Meet
the Locals”. We followed Alex, her cousin Pavl and …? (Man, I am SO bad with names!) to the metro, and to an old sports bar called ‘Barcelona’ (or at least, something similar to that in Russian).


When we walked in and got seated in a separate room, we were told that something had happened to the power, and so they started to bring out numerous candles. We ended up ordering paella and some meatball tapas. It was kind of weird though because we ended up kind of sitting as one group of us internationals and then the Russians next to us, and then a few of us at the other end, so our little group didn’t end up talking to them very much.

The dramas from the night?
– Food took forever to come out. In the end we spent about 3 hours at dinner…
– Meatballs were brought out and they were not warm at all. So we sent them back. Luckily we didn’t get sick or anything from that.
– Towards the end of the meal, a picture fell on Ben’s head. So Alex talked to the waitress and in the end they brought out another dish thing by way of apologise. It was basically potato done 5 ways. So that was interesting to share that around, although there was one portion that was a bit of meat.

After the dinner, we ended up going to a club, which was a little bit swanky, with drinks costing way more than necessary.


russian dancing... yeaaah.


Sam and Vanessa danced with the Russians a bit, while the rest of us hung back on some of the couches, chatting and such, before one of the Russian security guards approached us and told us that we had to pay 1000 rubles or something to sit there. Alex tried to sort it out with him, but we found out that the tables were permanently reserved, so we just went to stand by the dance floor, watching the Russian guys dance, which was entertainment in itself.

In the end, Carla, Ben and I decided to head back to the hotel, while Sam, Vanessa and Joao stayed with the Russians and headed to a Soviet-style bar.

More posts to come eventually about the rest of the Russia trip. Possibly when I get back to Copenhagen, after my EICL exam, and after Beck comes and we jet over to Stockholm. :)



RST Day 1: If you are late, we will not wait for you.

02.30: Sleep after having completed online trial exam for EICL.
06.00: Alarm clock rings.
06.50: Leave the house, after having rushed around making sure that I had packed everything. Blue bag is much heavier than expected. Better than wheeling around broken suitcase. Grab two jam donuts bought at Bilka yesterday.
07.09: Train from Ørestad to Kastrup Lufthavn.
07.18: Arrive at Kastrup. Meet the rest of the group at the metro station.
07.45: Check in and join the super long queue for baggage drop.
08.10: Starbucks.
08.30: Go through security. It is strange to have a guy perform checks on you…
09.10: Head to gate and start to board.

departing 9.35.

09.35: Notice a strange smell on the plane…
09.50: Announcement made about how the plane has been sitting for a day and dust may have gotten into the air conditioning unit. Attempt to solve problem.
10.15: Taxi-ing. Getting ready for take off.
10.20: Complaints of smell.
10.30: “Please head to Gate Delta 103. We will get a new plane and expected time of departure is 11.30.” Proceed to get off the plane and head to the  aforementioned gate.
10.40: 7/11 stop.
11.30: Still no movement at the gate.
12.00: Everyone has boarded. Excitement now at finally being able to get off the ground.
12.15: Some navigational thing is not working. Further delays as a technician is called to try and fix it.
12.40: Orange juice is served. Small compensation is small.

small compensation is small.

12.50: Pilot makes an announcement about lunch. “I tried to get some food to be put on the plane so that we can serve you, because it is not acceptable that you haven’t eaten since your breakfast this morning. However, this was impossible. I don’t know why, it should possible, but it wasn’t. So then we thought that we would let you off the plane so that you can get food and maybe come back in an hour, but then the flight would not be able to go and it would be cancelled. And there are no more flights to St Petersburg today. So have a think about it.” One of the crew members then comes out to gauge the passenger’s reactions. There is a resounding “FLY!” from our tour group. Some of the other passengers are less vocal about their thoughts. But overall consensus is to fly.

13.10: Plane finally takes off, almost four hours behind schedule.

applause as the plane leaves the ground.

13.40: Tea/coffee is served. They’re trying to buy our favour with drinks.
14:40: Descent into St Petersburg.

first views of russia.

15.00/17.00: Russia is +2. Finally touch down in St Petersburg. Buses arrive promptly to drive us to the actual airport. Go through passport control, collect luggage, load luggage on bus, board bus, wait for girl whose luggage did not make the transition between planes, but instead got sent to Helsinki… Bus drives through Leningrad, the Soviet part of town, on the way to Hotel Azimut.

st petersburg.

19.00: Arrive at hotel, wait for keys to be distributed. Hotel system fails of course. Finally get room keys. Dump luggage. Head back down to the lobby. As a whole, the group consumes a numerous amount of Chupa Chups. :)
19.30: Leave hotel finally. Night time pictures on a moving vehicle are blurry. But night time St Petersburg is absolutely beautiful!!
20.00: Arrive at Café Jam (Ul. Ryleeva 12). It is owned by a Danish woman. We get fed real food for the first time since breakfast.

café jam (ul. ryleeva 12)

entrée (featuring reindeer meat, beetroot/herring, 'vitamin' salad, marinated salmon, egg/prawn thing); main (beef stroganoff); dessert (lemon pancakes with icecream); tea.

russian vodka shots.

22.00: Underground time. Down the super long escalator. Luckily it is now legal (apparently) to take photos. Otherwise I might be in trouble. Up until last year, it was considered to be a strategic/security issue. The underground is really quite far underground. In the case of a nuclear attack, huge doors will come down between the escalators and the underground platform and… people on the underground will be safe??

22 rubles for a token to catch the speedy underground..

the underground is... under ground.

23.00: Arrive back at the hotel after walking from station and stopping at 24 hour store to buy water… with which to brush our teeth…
01.30: Time to sleep.


starting out on a journey…

the church of spilled blood, st petersburg (driftings@flickr)

So in a few hours, I have to leave for Kastrup Airport to meet up with the group that is going to RUSSIA! :)

I am super excited, and yes, I am up late because I am terrible at packing.

It’s going to be 9 days of pure awesomeness, albeit much much colder than it has been in Copenhagen so far. I hope that I do not freeze, despite the fact that I do not think that I have enough clothes…

Rumour has it that it has started to snow already! :O

In any case, not that I have been the best at updating anyway, but I shall be gone for the next week and a half.

And then when I get back, Beck will be visiting me here in Copenhagen! I cannot wait!


to flea, or not to flea.

Copenhagen is a haven for markets, whether the larger, organised markets, or the more local ‘loppemarked’ i.e. a flea market. It seems like there has been one every weekend. I’ve been to a number over the past few weeks, mostly having just stumbled across them randomly as I’m walking down the street.

loppemarked. (14th august; fiolstræde)

I went to the Kunsthåndværkermarkedet (Arts and Crafts Market) at Frue Plads. This reminded me of the Finders Keepers Markets that I went to with Jess in July, except for the fact that it seemed much more like fine arts and crafts than handicrafts. But it was still cool to see.
kunsthåndværkermarkedet at frue plads. (14th august)

a sample of the wares.

Behind the pretty exterior of the housing blocks, there seems to usually be a central common courtyard/garden type area. All of the residents come out and set up their own little stall to sell their own things. It’s quite interesting to see the sense of community that each ‘complex’ has. It seems like here you really do know your neighbours. I think that sense of local community is somewhat lost in suburban Sydney. While my parents were here, they stayed at a hotel in Østerport, so we did a bit of wandering around there. It so happened to be a Saturday, and there were a number of blocks that had decided to use that day as their market day.

loppemarked. (4th september; blegdamsvej)

I’m not really a buyer, though. I just like looking and there’s always the excitement that you miiight find something cool. :)
Two weeks ago, I ventured to Frederiksberg and visited the Jægersborggade Loppemarked.

jægersborggade loppemarked. there were also a number of craft stores. (24th sept)

the street, a record store, a display of pez dispensers and an interestingly decorated cart.

To top this post off, last Saturday (2nd October) I braved the cold cold winds of Copenhagen and visited a number of the other outdoor markets that Copenhagen had to offer, before they closed up for the year.

First up was Israels Plads.

israels plads. (2nd october)

I already mentioned that you can find interesting things at markets…

signs and tins.

a mini piano and an old phone.

Then I caught the bus up the road to the Nørrebro Loppemarked, on Nørrebrogade, along Assistens Kirkegard.

i really like the yellow wall of assistens kirkegard. (2nd october)

It was kind of messy though, with a lot of things just piled on the sidewalk.

piles of treasures.

Last but not least, I visited Frederiksberg Loppemarked, in the carpark of Frederiksberg Rådhus. When I went last Saturday, I got there a bit late and people were getting ready to pack up, so I didn’t really get that good a look at things. Plus, my fingers were starting to freeze from the winds. Since this past Saturday (9th October) was such a gloriously sunny day, I went back to Frederiksberg and stopped by the market again, before heading to Frederiksberg Slot and the surrounding gardens (but that’s a post for another day…).

first impressions (2nd october), second time round brought funny toys, the carlsberg van returned, and would you look at that blue sky! (9th october)

After all these markets, I haven’t really bought anything. The best purchase has got to be my Mads Nørgaard coat, that I wore for the first time today. I couldn’t have gotten much better. :) Still, it’s always fun to looksee at things. :)

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while. Finally getting around to posting it. I have a lot of things to catch up on, I am aware of this. Slowly but surely… eventually. :)