First day in SpB: getting acquainted
Saying goodbye to my husband is always difficult, no matter how many times I fly each year. Of course I always prefer that he comes with me, but with our jobs and our many passions, there are not many opportunities to travel together. We hugged and kissed and I went straight to security check, tired and sleepy but ready to start the adventure waiting for me at the end of my flight.
Flight to St Petersburg
I booked my ticket Amsterdam-St Peterburg with gate1.nl because I found the cheapest ticket there, less than €400 for a retour booked two weeks before the flight. But the catch was: a 7AM early flight, stop over of 45 minutes in Zurich and two stop-overs on the way back, flying with Edelweiss, Swiss Air, Tylorean Airways and Lufthansa. It was my first time to fly with Swiss carriers and I have to give them a 10 for comfort, efficiency and punctuality. Flights went very smooth, uneventful but precisely on time like a Swiss clockwork.
On Edelweiss I bought a pen which is also a video/photo camera and recorder which I thought would be handy when I visit the Hermitage Museum. This was my Christmas gift to myself and I was so happy to have save CHF 90 (advertised on the shopping guide) only to find out that it was selling at CHF9 cheaper on Swiss Air. At the Swiss immigration line, I met a Ukrainian businessman working in Rotterdam and we chatted about language exams and naturalization procedures in the Netherlands. He is in St Petersburg for the weekend but I have a feeling that we will be keeping in touch when we get back to Rotterdam.
At the Russian immigration
On the plane, I revisited my old book and practiced as much words I can remember for possible questions at the Russian immigration. I was armed with words like здравтвуйте (hallo/dag), билет (ticket), лекларация (declaration/immigration card), паспорт (passport), турйстка (lady tourist), пожалуста (please) and срасибо (thank you). I was excited to talk in Russian but the immigration officer did not utter one single word and the only words I had been able to practice were, hello please and thank you. I almost couldn’t believe that it went so easy.
Alexander was supposed to be waiting for me at the airport but he was not there when I arrived so I dared called him. It was probably because of the traffic jam that he was two minutes late but all went well. We tried to talk a little bit in the car but my Russian is only as good as his English so I feel that it was not very successful. He told me a story which really made us both laugh and I think that’s a good thing. The ride from Pulkovo 2 to the apartment was at least 40 minutes and quite exciting because most drivers broke all the traffic rules I have learned in the Netherlands.
I thought I have a room mate but I was very glad to see that my room was all to myself. It’s small, very basic – a single bed, two study tables, a closet and a television. Just as I was putting my luggage down I saw the occupant of the room beside mine. His name is Angelo, and he was going to the supermarket so I hurriedly picked up my keys and asked if I can come with him. I only had few bites of that Mexican toast at La Place so I was starving. The food that was served at Swiss Air was hot but barely edible. He happily agreed and so last night I cooked rice and bacon and had a decent meal but I immediately crashed in bed, too tired to continue blogging.
St Petersburg is huge and currently blanketed in ice and snow. Yesterday was very sunny and beautiful but cold and I suspect that today is going to be the same. Inside, the apartment was very cosy and warm, betraying the freezing temperature outside. I am staying in one of the many high rise buildings in this city. There are a lot of them, some are quite new others are a bit run down. When we passed the city centre, I saw even bigger buildings which reminded of Berlin maybe 2o years ago, masculine and a bit intimidating. People don’t smile at you on the streets or in the grocery store and right now I feel really stupid and inadequate because despite the lessons I took at home, I can only gape in silent when the Russians started talking to me.
Well I am off to the center to meet my practice buddy at 2PM. But first I have to take the metro to go there. I was told it is a 20-minute from the apartment till there. Wish me luck, I am going to need all of that.
Stay up to date with my Russian adventure as I share my daily life in St Petersburg. You will find all the blog posts under the category RussianinStPetersburg.