Watching the bridges on the Neva rise at night

Previous page - To Peterhof on the hydrofoil


The Hermitage

When we got back to where the hydrofoil docks we were right alongside the Hermitage Museum. We wanted to go to the museum the next day.

We had been told that ticket queues could be exceedingly long so we thought we would stick our heads into the ticket office and ask if we could buy our tickets for the next day. It was nearing 5 p.m. so I crossed my fingers they would do it. But no, as expected, it was not possible.

There is a huge fore court in front of the Hermitage and there are stalls selling typical tourist items. We had a look at Matryoshkas and sure enough they were much dearer than those we bought with Mubin in Moscow. We took ourselves back to the hostel and spent a while emailing the kids from downstairs in the reception area.


Giant stuffed potato meal Giant and delicious stuffed potato meal

The giant stuffed potato meal

We had quite a lot of time to kill before visiting our next tourist attraction which was a trip on a boat to see the bridges on the River Neva open at night.

Ships need to navigate the Neva River but they can only do this at night when the bridges are raised enough for them to get through. It is a very popular attraction to get out on the river to see all this happen. Apparently there are 23 bridges that get raised. Our trip on the boat was due to leave the canal pontoon at 12.20 a.m.

But before then we had to find some dinner. We found a potato shop recommended to us by someone at the hostel.

We had soup first which was a tad cool and then an extremely large potato with our own choices of stuffing to go on the top. The yellow blob on the top was not egg as we expected but a lovely garlicky cheese mixture. The other blob was ham and vegies in a thick sauce. It was very delicious and cost a total of 390 roubles for both of us and that included a bottle of water each too. The meal was very filling and yummy.

We then spent a few hours wandering around, killing time. The white nights in Saint Petersburg are amazing. We were there in late June and it never got really 100% dark as it does at home.


It was 10 p.m. when this photo was taken This photo was taken at 10 p.m.
It still wasn't totally dark at 12.30 a.m. Strangely it still wasn't totally dark at 12.30 a.m.










Seeing the bridges of Saint Petersburg rise at night

The streets were very busy and the traffic volume was huge for late at night. There was a group of motor bike riders that was determined to race up and down the main street of Nevsky Prospekt at phenomenal speeds. They did this for a very long time and no police arrived to stop this dangerous practice. It was quite annoying, not to mention bad on the ear drums.

Even though we weren't hungry we stopped at an outdoor restaurant and ordered crepes and a drink - just to kill a bit more time. We had walked so much we were absolutely pooped. We knew we would have to walk home again after the event too. Ian's chest cold was bad and as soon as the boat took off I was worried the cold wind would make him worse. There was no wind at all on the streets.

The boat owners gave everyone a lovely soft blanket to wrap themselves in. It was quite heavenly but not enough to keep us warm when we were out on the water. So be warned - bring something very warm to wear even in the middle of summer if you go on this trip. As we exited the canal the tour leader gave us bits and pieces of information to absorb and then announced we were going to see three bridges get raised. We were instantly disappointed - as were many of the other passengers. We understood we were going to see more than just three! To fill in more time before the big event the boat cruised around the Neva River and our guide pointed out buildings of interest.


As it turns out we saw only two bridges rise. Really we think the whole tour thing was over-rated and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. There were masses of craft out on the water - literally hundreds and hundreds of them. Many contained groups that had obviously been drinking for hours. It's a wonder someone didn't go over board in their drunken stupor.

A bridge just prior to opening Bridge just prior to opening
One of the open bridges One of the open bridges










The sky in the west at 2 a.m. The sky in the west at 2 a.m.

It seemed poorly organized

The boats all race along under a bridge and out through the other side. Then they anchor and wait. Everyone on board cranes their heads around backwards waiting for the bridge to raise up.

It is exceedingly hard to get a decent photo as everyone's heads are in the way. That done with, the boats all race on again to the next bridge and repeat the process.

We couldn't see why the boats weren't turned around so you could actually look forward in the direction of the bridges. As said before, we only saw two bridges open after all. Then we cruised back to base. Disappointing really.

If we were here another time we would watch from the river bank and be satisfied with seeing just one bridge raise from close proximity. That's what hundreds of other people were doing. We wouldn't have been anywhere near as cold either. We then walked all the way back to the hostel chatting to a friendly American lady we met on the boat. We were still frozen when we got back and fell into our beds at 2:30 a.m.


Next page - The canal tour


Our trip in the order it happened:

Travel Planning Necessities
World time zones, world weather, currency converter, language translator services.

Search over 25,000 hostels.

Trip Advisor Forum - Russia
The place to find information about Russia when you can't find it elsewhere.

Way To Russia
Another very good forum

Getting A Russian Visa
The process is explained

Trains between Moscow & Saint Petersburg
Explanation of the types of trains on that route.

Firmenny Trains
An explanation of what they are.

Moscow's Railway Stations
A map of their locations and proximities.

Learn How To Speak Russian
Free lessons.

Map of St. Petersburg
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Map of Moscow
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Moscow Times Newspaper
English version.

The Russia Club
A forum for all those interested in anything "Russian".

Russian Rail Timetable
It takes a bit of mastering but Ian managed it (eventually).

The Art Of Travel
Very interesting travel information for all locations.

Smart Traveller
Australian Government's site dealing with current travel advice.

Travel Independent
A site written by travellers for travellers. Lots of information.

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