No sleep in today, our last day in St Petersburg needs a good mooching around to reinforce the memories we have collected, and so Kat can do some more shopping of course.
Our favourite tea waiter, Zavri was on duty at breakfast. We think he should be Igor as he always asks us in his strong accent "Tea?". He now knows to bring us a pot of hot water, before we even ask, and has got a bit chatty.
I asked him about the locks on the bridge, he said that he came from one of the somethingistan provinces and didn't know. I asked one of the girls at the reception and she got coy and said she didn't know. So I googled it, what do you know, the googles had the whole story. That particular bridge is called the kissing bridge, and couples have good luck in their relationships if they pledge their love while standing on it. If they engrave their names on a lock, then lock it to the bridge, well that binds them to each other. So there it is, chalk another mystery solved up to Mr Google.
After breakfast Kat headed to the hotel souvenir shop to buy stamps for her postcards. I saw this great book about the emperors and empresses, it cost about $200 so Kat said no, reluctantly I agreed. But I want it known it was not because Kat said no, the book was bound in a beautiful bronze cover and was very heavy and it would have exceeded our weight allowance, true!
After all 17 postcards had been stamped and posted, we kitted up and headed off. It was cold, raining and windy, as a matter of fact it still is. Kat and I love our cold walks, so this was perfect. We took a leisurely stroll down some back streets to the river then along the Neva river back toward the Hermitage, it was still dark, wet and windy so photography was a challenge. The walk was beautiful though, we were well rugged up.
Crossing roads is an interesting experience here, it is very advisable to use the lights and abide by them, I think drivers get points for jay-walkers. When the green man comes on, a sign above begins a count-down, you normally have 30 seconds to get across, and drivers are not forgiving if you are tardy!
Well, back to the story. At the Palace Square in front of the Hermitage, deconstruction of the stage was in full swing, and the Christmas tree was still all lit up, as it was still mostly not daylight, it looked pretty.
About now the rain and wind increased, as did the realization that it had been a while since we had a pit stop. We thought about poping into the Hermitage to use the loo there, but we didn't have a guide and there was a big scary policeman guarding the door, so we bravely chickened out. The next option was to head back to our hotel and keep an eye out for a public loo.
Well as luck would have it as we passed a cafe, I saw a "WC" sign through the window, saved! What a turnout. The staff couldn't have been less interested in serving us if they tried. Their coffee was undrinkable and the loos had weird red and green lighting going on. The place was a labrynth with the loo way out the back. In one of the rooms a couple of girls were holding hands and sharing a joint, (As unlikely as it might seem, I do know what they smell like, the joint that is) very bohemian, or maybe that is how you make the coffee palatable.
The worst thing was though, as we left, right next door was a very cozy, posh looking coffee shop.
No need to ruin a good cold walk by going back to the hotel now. Kat's next find was a book shop, wow Russia still has beautiful books in beautiful bookshops with lots of customers. Ka-ching ka-ching more pressies and more to keep dry while walking in the rain.
We had been told about the Singer building and the famous cafe on the second floor, well we had time on our side and it was lunch time so why not. Why not was the fact we had to get through another bookshop on the ground floor first, ka-ching ka-ching.
The cafe certainly lived up to its legend, we had a window seat and the view over Nevsky Prospect to the Kazan Cathedral was great. We ate soup with a (great) coffee, well it was raining so it was soup weather.
Lunch over, we decided to have another look at the Church of our Saviour on the spilled blood. It was windy and raining enough to make taking photos a challenge so we headed back toward the hotel, stopping long enough for Kat to take a photo of sparrows and pigeons.
Well that was St Petersburg, what a great city, I'm not one bit disappointed we came here. We have seen it under snow and without snow, the people are generally nice, a bit blunt, sometimes downright rude, just like anywhere really. One thing stands out, there are no overweight people here, making me a very self conscious fat westerner. Anyone see a New Year's resolution coming up? I think they do a lot of walking here, Zavri said he walks for 40 minutes to get to work and thinks that is close.
Next stop Moscow.