Thursday, 23 July 2015

St Petersburg

Seeing the modern parts of Tallinn, the beautiful Kumu gallery, bus to St Petersburg.

Had breakfast with the Germans and Sigma talked about how she had walked in the non-guidebook part of the city yesterday trying to work out how the ends city links with the old. She inspired me to do the same. I walked up to the modern part and saw the very new hotels and the sex shops, city plaza looked like a piece of modern design from anywhere. I then took a taxi to the Kumu gallery, a fabulous new modern art gallery in a park next to the old gallery. I only had 30 minutes to look round before I had to go for my bus, so I went up to the top floor and walked around an exhibit of work by Marko Mäetamm who creates funny ironic cartoons to comment on his sex life, marriage and absence of money.

I wonder how Estonia with its population of 1.3 million can support big galleries and I guess they are dependent on tourism and conferences. The taxi driver said that this was the best time of year and that February/ March were low points.

Our passports were checked before we got on the St Petersburg bus in Tallinn. It was a 7 hour journey, two hours across Estonia then a hour crossing the checkpoints and then 3 hours across Russia. The landscape was initially woods and lakes and gradually became flatter. The villages looked poorer on the Russian side with many Dutch barn style houses.

St Petersburg is a vast city with a huge industrial outer part. I reached my hotel soon, checked in and then walked out to find some supper. I ate in a Georgian cafe with some young couples eating there and staffed by an elderly mother and daughter. I had borscht and herrings with potatoes. On the walls were sub-Chagall like paintings.

On the bus I had talked to a woman Polina in her 30s who had got on at Narva, she works for St Petersburg university and was interesting to talk to, after some initial reservations. She spoke good English and was interested in my guide book, making a few suggestions. She described herself as being a passionate St Petersburger, she had also travelled through the university and been to Korea and China and had visitors from the USA.

Looking forward to the challenge of trying to read the signs. I shall spend some time trying to learn the alphabet.

It is exciting to be in Russia, my first time here. Regretting not having organised a city guide and it we have been very easy through regent travel.

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