The main adventure of my whole summer trip to Europe was to attend my second World Cup, the first one in Brazil. Flying out from my time in Rome I arrived in Russia. The landing in Russia was a bit terrifying, nothing compared to my time in New Zealand. The wind coming in on the harbor can be rough so the plane is shaking and moving as the pilot tries to land. Curious if anyone else has had this issue at Saint Petersburg Airport?
At the time of this post RUB 100 = USD 1.32
Day 1 – Arrive 07.01.2018
We arrived pretty late in the evening so nothing too adventurous here. Coming out of the airport I could not get my uber app to work so I ended up taking a cab and the language barrier was an issue, he looked at our address gave me the thumbs up, and then drove completely in the wrong direction. And even after I pulled up the GPS on google maps to show him he persisted that it was right and then eventually agreed, honestly I think he did this to charge us more money but I’ll never know. At the time I was in Saint Petersburg Uber didn’t technically exist, the app worked but it was acting as a third party for a different ride-sharing app.
We checked in to the Airbnb, and before check-in, I was a bit skeptical because they requested a copy of my passport. This isn’t the first time this has been required in a host country but was strange they needed it before, anyway it all worked out.
Day 2 – Russian Architecture 07.02.2018
On our first full day in Saint Petersburg, we spent the full day exploring. The architecture in Russia is something out of a movie, it’s unreal and so beautiful. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the whole trip so my photos didn’t turn out that well. The first stop was the Savior on the Spilled Blood Church, which was being repaired. We did not go in but for those of you wondering the cost is RUB 250.
The next stop was to Palace Square which is a short 800 meter (.5mi) walk from the Church. The Square is home to the State Hermitage Museum, which is the 2nd largest art museum in the world and gets almost 5M visitors a year. The cost to enter is RUB 500, but after spending a full day at the Vatican museum I decided to sit this one out and explore the city. The outside of the building is worth a stop just to see how huge it is. Quick note, if you need to use the toilet the public restrooms cost money and you will need coins, even the portable toilets cost money to use.
Walking along the canal we stopped by the Bronze Horseman statue, which is in the Admiralteysky District. This district has a nice park and is next to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. If you’re in the area I recommend stopping at Stroganoff Steak House, and if you’re on USD, GBP, or EUR currency this place is very affordable for how nice it is. After stuffing my face with Halibut, we headed back towards the Savior on the Spilled Blood church, which was next to the FIFA Fan Fest. We stayed to watch Brazil take on Mexico in the Round 16 match. After the fan fest, we stopped to look for souvenirs and then had a light dinner at Burger & Crab to watch Belgium vs Japan match.
Day 3 – Round 16 World Cup Match 07.03.2018
Today is the day I’ve been waiting for, the match was at 17:00 local time so we headed out late morning to walk around and enjoy some of the festivities outside the stadium. First stop was to the FIFA ticketing center, I had an extra ticket that I wanted to sell, but had no luck. We took the subway over to the island where the stadium is. The subway (metro) in Saint Petersburg is designed as if I was in a palace, the architecture is amazing. The Culture Trip has a list of the beautiful metro stations in Saint Petersburg. During the world cup, the metro and busses were free to world cup fans.
When you get off the subway there is a huge park you walk through until you get to the stadium, Gazprom Arena, the roads were shut down from cars for the event. It is about a 3.5km walk (2mi). We stopped to get lunch on the way because my brother refuses to eat breakfast and had to eat to make the extra 2km walk haha, unfortunately, due to the long wait for food and the long wait of security this caused us to miss the opening ceremony and the start of the match.
This is one of the nicest stadiums I have been to. The match was Sweden vs Switzerland and Sweden won, it was a boring match. Sweden defended the whole match had one successful counter-attack and scored. After the game, I got a migraine and that ended the day for me there.
Day 4 – Canal Tour Cruise 07.04.2018
I wasn’t able to get an Airbnb for the whole stay due to budget and location, etc. so our last we stayed at the Crowne Plaza next to the airport, which worked out well since we had an afternoon flight out the next day and they gave us a late checkout for free. After we checked-in we headed back to the heart of the city to take a canal tour around Saint Petersburg. The tour was with Boat Trips Russia, which they do not have a website and costs RUB 3,000 (USD 40). After the tour, we walked around Saint Petersburg and did a little bit more souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel.
Off to Amsterdam tomorrow to send my dad home and meet my mum and a few mates before heading to Venice.
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