Tuesday, March 10, 2009

St Petersburg: Monday 9th March 2009

We spent two hours at the Central Ticket office today in order to get train tickets to Helsinki. We started off in one queue, which closed after we had waited 10 minutes, as the teller was going for lunch. Luckily a lady told us this in in English, and that another window was going to open and we were only 8th in the queue. Every transaction took so long to complete as we patiently stood in the line. The Russians had some sort of system where they would save themselves a place in the line and wander away, we stoically stood still. Andrew was a saint and didn’t complain once!!!!

Getting to the front of the queue he flashed his note saying "Helsinki, 13-3-09, 2 billets" in front of the teller who immediately said “Nyet” and rang someone on the phone. A little man who didn’t seem to speak any English either took us to the 2nd floor of the building, which was some sort of international ticket office. We completed a transaction in less than 10 minutes. An hour and half of queuing just for the experience – priceless!

After lunch back at the apartment we put on another layer of clothing. Today is grey and much colder. The forecast is for heavy snow (continuing for the rest of the week), but it hadn’t eventuated by evening.

We visited the church of Spilled Blood, which is modelled on St Basil’s in Moscow.

It is known as Spilled blood as this was where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded in 1881, and the church was built 2 years later as a memorial. It fell into disrepair and in the 1950 -60's it was used to store potatoes and theatre equipment. After 27 years restoration, it was reopened in 1997 and it is absolutely stunning inside. The entire wall and ceiling space is decorated with mosaics – 7000m2 according to the Lonely Planet.

Images of the church interior

The gates outside the church park, wonderful iron work.

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