Russia’s old capital. I had suggested to skip it already to explore the Estonian countryside instead and come back here with some more time to explore close by Karelia as well, but Nastya insisted and so I had my 3rd visit to Leningrad in cold and rain – typical weather up here in the North and on the shore of the Baltic sea.
It’s the Northernmost place we will have visited on our journey which makes me think about the other three. West had been the first, on Hiddensee, Germany, before we even began cycling. Southernmost in Bali, Indonesia (at a bus stop in Nusa Dua out of all places!). Easternmost in Russia as well, but 8! timezones ahead of us. Now we’re wearing almost all clothes we carry and explore the Cultural Capital of Russia. We meet with friends and explore the museums and galleries(The Winter Palace is a must!). It is cold however and we’re not used to it anymore. The beer prices don’t help, though it’s not as expensive as Moscow. On our last evening we find ourselves in “Kamchatka” the bar that famous singer Viktor Tsoy used to visit. We pack up bid farewell to our lovely host Marina and after two hours on public transport we leave the big city and hitch-hike to the border to leave Russia after three months and crossing it completely over land from Vladivostok. More Russia than most Russians ever got to see as we’re assured regularly.
Thanks to our fantastic hosts throughout the country we always had shelter and witnessed a lot of change. Alcohol is not enjoying the popularity among the Youth as it did on previous visits, people travel a lot (inside and outside the country), cities became greener and cyclist-friendlier in many places and Russians kept their warmth and hospitality though it will remain a mystery to us why men pick us up in their cars only when they are not accompanied by their wifes who are strictly against. As anywhere in the world, watching less TV helps 🙂