Holiday! It would be so nice…

Crossing the Neva River on the Troitsky Bridge.

Spring in Russia brings the May holidays. On Labor Day, I hopped the SapSan train northwest to St. Petersburg. A port city on the coast, the wind was whipping and I was blessed once again with glorious sunshine and blue skies. Known as a rainy city, I couldn’t have asked for more from my beloved St. Pete’s.

My first time leaving Moscow since January, it was wonderful if a bit bizarre to be able to take this trip. Fully vaccinated, I still wear a mask indoors (I’m one of only a few, sadly). I put in 20,000+ steps a day wandering the canals and city sidewalks, shooting photos and soaking in what felt like travel from the Before Times.

My first stop was Pushkin’s Apartment Museum, where he lived along the embankment until his death by dual in 1837. Their English audio guide was fantastic.

I have never visited St. Pete’s solo so I set up two Airbnb experiences to discover unknown parts of the city and learn from the locals. One was a tour of antique and vintage shops during which I learned about the Imperial Porcelain native to the city. The second experience was a walking tour of Petrograd Island, a favorite abode of locals filled with cafes and amazing architecture. The island was the original capital when the city was established in 1703 by Peter the Great.

I once again spent my nights at the Soul Kitchen Hostel. The hostel has now morphed into a co-living space with long term renters but is still as inviting as ever (and you can book short stays). Best location, walkable to everywhere, and the kindest hosts. My private room had a view of the canal on a relatively quiet street near the Pont du Rouge. Nothing beats the balcony view from the Soul Kitchen Hostel! Sunset was gorgeous if a bit chilly in the late April evening.

The crowning jewel of the trip had to be the Faberge Museum. Someone had once discouraged me from visiting but I am so thrilled that I did not listen. Exquisite excess, as my aunt Susan would say, and oh how beautiful the enamel detailing! A gorgeous building with incredible treasures to behold. Here’s a CBS Sunday Morning spot on the collection.

St. Pete’s is a much more relaxed city than Moscow. Very kind and friendly people, great food, and a penchant for the arts; it might be my favorite city in Europe.

One of the highlights of the trip – a dinner at The Idiot Restaurant (a nod to Dostoevsky’s famous novel). I enjoyed mussels in an ode to my grandad, who always wished to visit the city. The vodka shot was a treat on the house.

I departed on Orthodox Easter amidst a cacophony of church bells echoing off the onion domes.

St. Pete’s will always have a special place in my heart, with so many good memories of past trips with loved ones and this special trip all my own. I hope to return someday and walk the canals once again.

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