I was the first person at the breakfast offered by the hotel, no surprise because I’m usually the first up. It was, like the hotel itself, simple but just right. I was out the door by 8am ready to do more exploring.
I thought I’d use the Hop on/off bus to get myself to the bridge that led to the neighborhoods South of the river. I could tell by the deserted feeling of the area that I was too early to take advantage of the bus. I was going to have to go by foot. I walked the route I thought the bus had taken and voila!, I found the bridge! The bus had been valuable just for that – to help me figure out how to navigate.
Here there was a bustle of activity as people, I guessed, were headed to work. I imagined I was considering relocating and looked at all the buildings and shops as if I was apartment hunting and checking out potential areas to live. The trees that created the “snow” in St. Petersburg were plentiful here and had left drifts of white flowers (I’ll include photos in a separate blog when I’m back in the states with more robust internet).
I’d seen most of the area after just a couple of hours so decided to head to a new neighborhood. I stepped into the large metro station next door to the McDonald’s (a good source of free, clean WCs). From the signs I could tell it was the 5 line. I’d brought the copies I’d made of the metro lines in Russian and English because I’d decided at some point in the day to navigate to the neighborhood where I would be having dinner tonight to locate the restaurant so I wouldn’t get lost and be late.
I rode the typically long escalator ride down to the station landing. I pulled out my Russian map to see where I needed to go. I wanted to get to the 7 Line. I could see where I was and that the 7 line was one station to the right. Unfortunately my Russian print out wasn’t the Cyrillic version so I couldn’t identify any of the station names on the signs indicating which direction the train was headed on either side of the track. I went to the little security booth and, pointing at the map, tried to find out in which direction the trains to the right and left went. She rambled on in Russian while I shook my head and kept saying, I don’t understand. Finally we both gave up and I walked away. That’s when I realized she had been saying, “it’s a circle line dummy. It doesn’t matter which way you go!” So I hopped on the next train that pulled into the station.
Inside the train lighted squares on list of stations on the 5 (Circle Line) indicated which station was next. Depending on which direction I took the 7 was either one stop or 4 stops away. I’d picked the direction where it was four stops away. I couldn’t resist hopping off at a couple of the stations on the way to take photos. They were just so beautiful. I could have (should have?) spent more time just riding the metro photographing stations.
I am somewhat navigationally challenged. So I was thrilled when, using just my Google map print out I was able to quickly locate the restaurant. It’s in a lovely older building on a street with a wide tree lined walking area separating the traffic lanes. I explored this neighborhood a bit, popping into some shops in hopes of finding a short sleeve shirt. I tried on a few things but nothing wowed me and everything was too expensive. Using a conversion rate of 31.80R = $1.00, the tops ranged between $40 and $70. It was only when I priced things back in my Kitai-Gorod neighborhood that I learned those earlier shops were cheap in comparison!
Fortunately today feels cooler than yesterday so I will try to manage with what I have.
I’m so glad I didn’t sign up for a tour or bring any guides. I saw a woman with a worried look on her face glancing between her guide book and the street signs. If I’d brought a book with me, I would have let it dictate to me where I should go, what I should see. I’d be anxious that I was in the wrong place. As it is, I’m just wandering and exploring so I can’t possibly need to be anywhere other than where I am right now.
The weather is being very cooperative, it just got cooler!
I’m now headed back along the Circle Line to find more new neighborhoods!