Travel memoirs in Russia (Day 3/14: Saint Petersburg)

It’s the third day of my trip to Russia. My Flight was from Tehran to Moscow, I stayed the first night in Moscow, and the second day I slept on the way from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. As I was tired I slept the whole route and didn’t remember much of the route and in the morning I woke up when we had only half an hour to Saint Petersburg. Almost everyone was sleeping on the train. The train didn’t have a separate compartment and everyone was in an open wagon. 

train in the morning
Good morning Saint Petersburg

I got to St. Petersburg in the morning. Before coming I had heard from everyone that St. Petersburg is so beautiful, and when you leave Moscow, you wouldn’t like to go back again! I started the journey with this imagination. I was going to meet Diego in a mall near the train station. Diego is my Chilean friend who I met in Iran for the first time, also the reason why I came to Russia. He was a traveler who worked hard in his country for three years and saved money to travel. When I saw him he was already traveling for one year and visited a lot of countries. I met him through dear Couchsurfing.

Diego
My friend Diego

Diego started to visit other cities in Iran and after a month came back to Tehran and fortunately, we met him again. We had so many memories together, we went to the mountains, we ate falafel, we had a party in our apartment, we also celebrated my husband’s birthday party with Diego. He was a very easy going and cool guy and we were in touch even after he left Iran. A few months later, he announced that she was getting married to a Russian girl he had met on her two-month trip to Russia, and they were planning a wedding in St. Petersburg and invited me and Ebrahim to their wedding. 

Hiking in Tehran with dear groom :)
Hiking in Tehran with dear groom 🙂

We were really excited about this wedding and were considering to go there. At that time we were in an unstable situation, we were supposed to move to Lebanon and one month before the wedding my husband had already moved to Lebanon and I was going to join him in a month. Because of that and Ebrahim’s work, we couldn’t manage to go together, and as I was really excited about this wedding I decided to go alone. It was the first real solo travel of my life, in the past I traveled a lot, but I always had someone with me, or even when I traveled alone to Turkey my sister was living there and I had all her support. So I was really excited to have the chance to travel alone to a new country for two weeks. 

parastoo
Not a professional on taking selfies 🙂

Finally, I saw Diego in the mall, I was really happy to see him and I really didn’t expect to see him in that soon. Before coming to Russia and even during my trip Diego helped me a lot with planning my trip although he was the groom and had so many things to do. One of the countries he traveled to Russia and he spent like 3 months there and had a lot of experience over Russia and he knew a lot of people.

When he was in St. Petersburg last year, he had a host on his trip and he was going to take me there so I can also be her guest. He said she is a really great host who lives with her daughter, the only problem was she couldn’t speak English at all. But who cares! Nowadays with Google translate you can understand every language. Maybe we should stop learning new languages, that’s what Ebrahim believes in, he says I will wait for technology to grow so I won’t need to learn any language. And I think he is right, we are so close to that era. 🙂

The first photo I saw from my dear host
The first photo I saw from my dear host

Diego took me to his friend’s house and on the way, he got some flowers for Luba who was a 40-years-old lady living with her ten-year-old daughter. Luba and Diego’s mutual friend (Mila)  was also there when we arrived. Mila was a Russian woman and also a traveler who was fluent in English and Russian. Luba’s apartment was really nice and clean, it had the feeling that a mom is living there.

Me happy with Luba and Diego :)
Me happy with Luba and Diego 🙂

The house was full of Luba and her daughter’s painting with a positive vibe. They showed me my room and I put my big backpack there and went to the kitchen to hang out. Luba had a really nice smile and her eyes were so kind, although we could not communicate by language, I could see in her eyes how nice she is. Luba was also a great cook, she welcomed us with some homemade food and a bottle of nice red wine. Diego left early as he had stress for the wedding and lots of things to do.

Luba's painting gifted to me
Luba’s painting gifted to me

Luba is a voluntary painting teacher who teaches kids and elderly people how to paint with gouache and oil paint. Mila’s house was very nice and beautiful. Mila was a backpacker and she was back in Saint Petersburg for a short time and had a plan to continue traveling. She had been traveling for several years, especially to the US and South America. She seemed like a tough and wise woman. She had a 20 years old daughter. She was in Saint Petersburg to do some health checkups, she wanted to visit a doctor and said after that she can show me around. As I had no plans and was enjoying Russian’s everyday life, I went to the doctor’s office with her. 

After the doctor’s office, Mila and I went to go around the city. Diego told us to plan that day with one of his friends called Danny. He said she is chilian but came from Hungary and she was alone and would like some company. Danny did not have a sim card so we just planned to see her beside a fountain that I don’t remember the name. 🙂 We waited for almost half an hour for her and were looking for her according to her WhatsApp photo. She showed up and our day tour officially started. 

Parastoo and Mila
While waiting for Danny

It was a nice group, one Russian, one Iranian, and one Chilean. So consider the cultural differences between us. We started talking about what does being late mean in our countries! For Iranians half an hour was normal, same for Chileans, but for Russians! No way, even five minutes was already late. 

parastoo, danny, Mila
Chile, Iran, Russia 🙂

Danny was Diego’s friend in university and they both studied chemical engineering. She was almost 30 years old and she looked very cool and friendly. She was living with her boyfriend in Budapest, she was telling us about her experience in Budapest and the fact that she didn’t like it. She said there are not a lot of young people in the streets and it’s very calm and you cannot feel excitement there and a lot of time you will be bored. She was learning the Hungarian language and how difficult it was to learn that language.

Friendly Danny and me sitting on the floor
Friendly Danny 🙂

She was telling us that in Chile people are so energetic and in Mila’s eye loud and they would approach you and the personal distance is less. People talk to each other easily. I contrast Mila didn’t like loud places and loud people. Mila traveled in South America before and she was pissed at the culture, while Danny missed that vibe. For me, it was really interesting to see how cultures are different and something can be a good thing in one country and bad in another country. I believe the world is so relative. 

me and Danny on Crowded touristic places
Crowded touristic places

We walked downtown and saw lots of interesting buildings, churches, and museums. Well, I don’t remember the names, but I know I visited Hermitage(Winter Palace), St. Isaac’s Cathedral & Colonnade, Bronze Horseman, Carlo Rossi’s Petersburg, and lots of other colorful buildings.  What caught my attention the first day was that as St. Petersburg was much more touristy than Moscow, full of people selling tour services and wearing local clothes that you could take a picture with and pay them. People were painting and selling. 

Hermitage winter palace
Hermitage winter palace

The famous streets were really crowded and full of people. I personally don’t crowded places, that’s why I usually look for some local places. In my mind, you could find pictures and videos of famous places easily, and you don’t need to see lots of tourists while traveling. Besides that, I don’t like museums and I get bored easily, that’s why I usually visit museums only with my husband because he knows about history and can make museums interesting with his stories. So don’t surprise when you hear I  went all the way to Saint Petersburg and passed Hermitage so many times but did not visit inside! I saved that to visit Hermitage next time with Ebrahim. 🙂

Buildings are more beautiful from outside :)
Buildings are more beautiful from outside 🙂

I was really lucky in the case of the weather, the weather was so warm and sunny and I could travel with shorts, and maybe at late-night, it was not a good idea to be outside with shorts. 🙂 Saint Petersburg is usually colder than that in May. I even didn’t use most of the warm clothes that I picked up with me for famous cold Russia. Although Diego told me to bring warm clothes because it gets really cold at night, it didn’t.

When I was in Saint Petersburg it was white night, so the sky was bright at night. I started to get a little dark after 10 p.m. I was also good for me as a traveler because  I could go out easily without thinking about getting late and dark. But sometimes it was not a good thing, because some nights I lost the track of time and my plans had to change accordingly.

When we were walking near Hermitage, we ran into Diego. He was so stressful and tired and of course with a  Coca-Cola in hand. I remember he was the same in Iran, not for the stress and tiredness, but the Coca-Cola! 

I really like the energy of this photo
four of us near hermitage
I really like the energy of this photo 🙂

After a long walking tour with Mila, we were taken to a Russian chain restaurant called “Tremok”. I asked Mila to take us to a place for some Russian cuisine and her recommendation was perfect. Since Mila was a backpacker, she knew where to take us to love. It was cheap, delicious with a variety of local food. I like to eat local food while traveling Tremok was really good for me.  We wanted to taste different foods so we ordered Blini (Russian Pancakes) and Borsch (a kind of beetroot soup) and Pelmeni(Dumplings) and we shared with Danny. Usually, the Russians I met were okay with sharing a meal. Of course, Danny wasn’t Russian, but I just wanted to say. 🙂

After the food, we walked a little bit and Danny left to her hostel and Mila took me to Luba’s home. We took a lot of pictures and the third day finished with our beautiful memories. I slept early to get ready for the fourth day which was the wedding day! 🙂