Russia Part 2: St. Petersburg

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Soul Kitchen hostel recreational room.

Our adventures in Russia didn’t end when leaving Moscow as we ventured to St. Petersburg as our second and final destination for the trip. We arrived at our hostel late at night after the 4 hour ride on the bullet train, but our tiredness didn’t take away from how amazed we were by our hostel, Soul Kitchen. Soul Kitchen Hostel has been ranked several times as the best hostel in the world, and I could definitely see why! It was so cute with Pinterest-like decor and cozy rooms! The little things made it so special including free slippers, a foosball table, hair straighteners to use, and even fresh apple pastries made by the cleaning lady for everyone each morning!

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Beautiful blue church found during the walking tour.

Our first adventure was with a tour guide who had a British accent (which all of us thought was so cool!) The tour was so incredible, we didn’t even notice it was 4 hours long, especially because of how entertaining our tour guide was. He showed us many beautiful buildings with historical facts and stories behind the architecture. Our walking tour became a sliding tour and we slid across the slick ice pretending to ice skate with our snow boots across the canal.

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Reno and Ana getting ready to devour a gigantic milkshake.

One of our favorite dessert places was Mickey and Monkey. Let me tell you, this was no ordinary milkshake place. These portions were huge, and I’m talking America huge, topped with slices of cakes, candy, cookies, ice cream cones, and mountains of whipped cream. This was truly diabetes in a cup, but absolutely delicious.
Next on the itinerary was a Russian Ballet with the story of Cinderella. The theater was decorated in red and gold all over, with a huge chandelier and an orchestra at the base of the stage. Every movement was so elegant, every costume so intricate, and every emotion of the dancers so genuine. It’s so amazing to me how dance is a universal language, where the performers can illustrate a story without having to speak a single word.

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A flower for a flower.

The next day was International Women’s Day, which is truly celebrated in Europe. Before leaving the hostel for the day, the only guys in the group, Karen and Reno, surprised the group by giving out a single rose to each of the girls in the cohort, so sweet!

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Grand chandeliers throughout the Hermitage.

We were all so excited to spend part of our day exploring the second largest museum in the world, the Hermitage. Apparently if you look at every exhibit for just 3 seconds, it would take you 9 years to see the entire museum, 9 years!!!  All the exhibits, and even the ceilings were more stunning than words could describe. Seeing all of the grand chandeliers made us picture Sia singing “I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, the chandelier!”

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Peep the tourist.

If you are a Disney fanatic, I bet you would fall in love with this next place we visited. The setting of the Disney movie Anastasia is based on an actual palace in St. Petersburg Russia known as Catherine’s Palace. It felt like a true Disney fairytale upon entering the palace, especially when it came to the palace ballroom. We were surrounded by the brightest of gold decor and the most beautiful painting covering the entirety of the ceiling.

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Loving the Khachapuri!

We then got the BEST food at a Georgian food restaurant including khachapuri, basically bread with a raw egg and cheese in the middle that cooks after they give it to you from how hot the bread is, and Khinkali, which are huge dumplings filled with beef. Wow it was so good! While at the restaurant, Cinthia wanted to practice her Russian with the waiter by ordering a pancake. When he walks over, she proudly says in Russian, “I am a good pancake with condensed milk.” The waiter confusingly responds in Russian “are you a good pancake with condensed milk?” Karen busts out laughing as Cinthia is confused about what just happened, until Karen says she said I am a good pancake instead of I want a pancake!

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Talented Russian dancers for our last night in St. Petersburg.

After the glorious meal we headed to our last show in Russia, Feel Yourself Russian. The show was so fun with traditional Russian costumes and dances with silly tricks mixed in. We all had such cheesy smiles on our faces watching these performers bounce around making high pitched noises along with fun music. It was a great last night of silliness, talent, smiles, and laughter.
For our last church visit we came to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This was the only church thus far we could take pictures in, and I was so glad because it was absolutely gorgeous. Walking by the colorful illustrations flooding every inch of the walls led to admiration of the beauty of our God, who allowed us such this life-changing opportunity to visit Russia.

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Nothing like exploring, laughing, and building new friendships in this new place.

It was so hard to leave Russia, because of the incredible experience and wonderful memories we had there. We will forever treasure the faces we saw, conversations we had, and laughs we shared in Russia!

 

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