Monday, June 22, 2009

St.Petersburg, Russia - Day 74 : Easing into Russia

The border control between Finland and Helsinki was surprisingly quick and efficient given the stories we had heard of tedious checks and immigration officers disappearing for hours.

We arrived in St.Petersburg a littler after noon and checked into our first Russian apartment which we booked through HOFA. It's basic and in need of some repair and refurnishing. For a bed, we have a small pull out sofa - a little larger than a twin bed for the 3 of us. As the guidebooks and every other source warned, good-value accommodation is hard to come by in Russia. I am not complaining just yet - at least we have a washing machine.

At first glance, St.Peterburg looks like a large sprawling version of any Western European city - which is exactly what Peter the Great had conceived it to be. But like our apartment, the city is in need of some care and bursting at the seams with cars (and car fumes). Historic pre-war buildings are topped with large commercial signs which seem both tacky and out of place. T has always loved St.Petersburg but it definitely isn't love at first sight for me. It doesn't help that I am still easing into Russia. I am constantly looking over my shoulder for Militsya (local civilian police) to stop and harass us for our papers. Perhaps I just to need to  drop my guard and relax a little.

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