THE ROAD TO RUSSIA
Left Tallin for St. Petersburg at 11:00pm. We got to the station early (about 45 mins before the train goes). The train is there but locked up. Eventually the train is opened up and we find our compartment. It is a 4 berth that we have to ourselves. Get ready for bed and are just settling down when the carriage attendant turns up with forms for us to fill in. Then get back down to bed. At about 2:45, the border crossing pantomime begins. First the attendant knocks on the door - the toilet will be closed in 15 minutes whilst we cross the border. Next at 3:05, the customs man asking if we have anything to declare. Next comes the passport check - but no stamps in the passport so it is only an initial check. We try to get back to sleep, the train moves. Another knock on the door, Russian customs checks the luggage (only a perfunctory check but we have to get off the bed to get cases out). Another 15 minutes, and its visa check when we get forms checked etc. Just as we thought that was it - it was the border police checking for any bodies hiding in the compartment! Get back to sleep after covering about 5 miles in 2 hours.We arrive in St. Petersburg - it's a bit daunting with everything in an alphabet we can't understand. Eventually find an ATM and get some roubles but only big notes - so find an exchange booth to get some small notes. Find the underground and manage to navigate our way through it with only one mishap - went one stop too far. Fran thought at one stage we would be spending the day in the underground going round and round looking for the right stop - a young lady stopped to help and gave us directions to find our way out! The map we had showed the hotel quite close to the Metro but it was a little larger scale than I realised - so a 5 minute walked turned into a 30 minute one - just what we needed.