First Impression - The first feeling that comes to our mind looking at pictures of Russia are WOW! What a beautiful place. While usually things appear better in pictures than they actually are, this is not true for Russia. In fact the other way round. The place is more beautiful than what it looks like in pictures.
White Nights -My trip happened in the month of July. I had read about days being longer, but once there I witnessed something called White Nights. These are days starting mid June to early July when it never gets completely dark. The beauty of the blue sky even at mid night was an incentive for us to explore the city at night. That time of the hour has its own beauty. Most of the shops may shut down but it doesn’t deter the people from stepping out.
It’s a visual delight to see the city illuminated as if preparing for a festivity. It’s not uncommon to spot a young girl or boy skating on the pavements enjoying the streets which are never completely deserted.
Metro -Week days are bustling with traffic on roads. It is advisable to take the underground. You can’t escape the crowd but you are assured to reach in time. Underground gives the impression of something dark and gloomy. But certainly not with Moscow’s Metro. The metro as old as 1933; is undoubtedly the most beautiful and arguably the most accurate system in the World. The stations are no less than heritage museums. Each with a different theme and architecture. If the reason is not to travel from one place to other, I would highly recommend the visitors to take the underground just to explore the beauty of the stations.
The main attraction of Moscow, The Red Square is bustling with tourists 24/7. Ideal way to see the area is to wear comfortable shoes and get set go. Explore every nook and corner to just soak in the grand architecture or just to relax. There is an abundance of talent on streets.
If you feel you have had enough of performers on streets, Gorky Park is the place to visit. It’s a happening place to hang out in the evenings. Laze around on mattresses or play your favorite sport. If this doesn’t appeal, sit on the banks of Moskva or watch skaters display their talent. All is a visual treat.
St Petersburg - The best way to get to Petersburg is to take the Sapsan. Takes less than 4 hours to cover 700 km. Petersburg is a smaller town and much more manageable but at the same time more touristy. The entire city looks like a carnival whereas the heritage buildings make the visitor wonder as if he is visiting a huge museum. Most of the buildings in town have once been palaces. The 200 years of the Czar rule reflects in the grandeur of the city’s architecture.
There is so much to see and do. A careful planning and lots of walking is needed to cover all major sights and events. Don’t miss the Opening of Bridges past midnight, when most of the bridges on the Neva open for inflow of bigger vessels. Also on your bucket list should be the Russian Ballet. And yes be very particular about your dress. They will not like you being in casuals.
Moving Around - And if distances deter you from walking around, take to the Uber taxi. The app is very reliable and gets you a taxi in few minutes without having to negotiate or explain the address to the taxi driver as language is a big deterrent. Very few Russians understand English.