[Here we are contemplating the wisdom of our life choices . . . specificially whether it was the best idea to take a train into Russia.]
But we made it safely to St. Petersburg and eventually found our hotel (seriously, it was the hardest hotel to find--it was close to the center of town, but it was like it was in some kind of alternate universe and we always had such a hard time finding it . . . weird).
Briana was still sick, so she took our first day in St. Pete to recover, which means that I had full range of the city and could do whatever I wanted. So naturally, that meant . . .
1. Finding the coolest bookstore in the world. I am in love with it.
[love love love love love.]
[The only sad thing about this picture is that I couldn't take any books home with me because I had zero room in my already stuffed-to-the-brim travel backpack.]
2. I also went to the Anna Akhmatova Museum. I love this woman and her poetry. And it was neat to be able to see the house she lived in.
["Anna Akhmatova Museum."]
[Had to have evidence that I was actually there.]
[Gardens by her home. I couldn't take any pictures inside, but I made sure to write in the guest book to let that corner of St. Petersburg know that an American girl loves Anna Akhmatova's poetry.]
3. I just wandered in general. Parks, monuments, river, canals, islands . . . Petersburg lends itself to wandering.
[The Summer Gardens]
[Walking along the Neva]
[Peter and Paul Fortress]
That evening, Briana was feeling well enough to go outside and we went to the Mikhailskii Theatre to see Swan Lake. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I've had in my life. Truly. It was absolutely incredible. I've seen ballet before, but watching the Russian ballet was something completely different. The sets, the costumes, the orchestra, the ballerinas--everything was just perfect. I was so impressed with all of the ballerinas. Also, the prima ballerina played both the White Swan and the Black Swan--she was magnificent. There were times in the ballet where I was almost moved to tears it was so beautiful. Definitely a memorable experience.
[The Mikhailskii Theatre]
[SO EXCITED!!!! Also, look at the Russian woman photobombing in the background. Awesome.]
[SO EXCITED!!!!!!! take 2]
The next day, we did some more sightseeing. We went to the Winter Palace and the Hermitage, were awestruck by the sheer wealth, size, and grandeur of the place, and then met up with another one of Briana's friends and had delicious Georgian food and then went to this really posh cafe for milkshakes.
[In front of the Winter Palace. Briana and I chose the best colors to wear on a grey St. Petersburg day. Namely, bright yellow and neon pink. Go us.]
[In the Winter Palace. Look at those staircases. I was singing "Once Upon a December" to myself the entire time.]
[Dancing bears, painted wings]
[Opulence. I has it.]
[This was a picture commemorating the Battle of Borodino during the War of 1812. I decided that this is probably Prince Andrei from War and Peace dying on the battlefield. Poor guy.]
[So. much. gold.]
[On the steps of the Winter Palace.]
[Posh Petersburg Cafe.]
[They had everything there. Cheese, fine chocolates, vodka, sausages . . . Briana's friend Helen said that she always came here when she had to bring something nice as a gift for an interview.]
[Drinking milkshakes on a rainy St. Petersburg day.]
As always, there's never enough time to see or do everything that I'd like to in St. Petersburg. But it was nice to be able to get there twice this summer. Hopefully someday I'll be able to spend a longer time there. It has so many stories to tell.