This second batch is loosely “practicalities” – accommodation, transport etc. (OK a submarine and a conference banquet aren’t natural partners, but this was the best theme I could come up with).

SPB LongCorridor

The aptly named “Long Corridor” used for the poster sessions, here looking rather desolate at the end of the conference. The building [59 56 30 N, 30 17 57 E] was 1/4 mile (400 m) long, so keeping an eye on multiple posters wasn’t very practical.

SPB Banquet1

Conference banquet in the Ethnographic Museum. This being Russia, each table had its own bottle of vodka…

SPB Pribaltiskaya

The Pribaltiyskaya is a large hotel (15 accommodation floors and 1500 rooms) [59 56 20 N, 30 12 52 E] built in 1979 for the 1980 Olympics. Now part of the Park Inn “brand”, it retains a somewhat Soviet style (including in customer service!). Many rooms will have good views over the Gulf of Finland, but otherwise the hotel is a long way from the city centre and a poor base for exploration.

SPB WhiteNights
SPB WhiteNights2

The period in June and early July is known as the “White Nights”. At 60 degrees North, the sun barely sets in mid summer.

SPB Streets

The wide streets reflect the imperial scale of the city. Crossing them can take nerves of steel as drivers take little notice of pedestrian crossings and even less of speed limits. As the photo shows, the vehicles were a broad mix, from the inevitable Ladas to top-of-the-range 4x4s.

SPB Signage

Most of the signage was hung from overhead cables. A basic grasp of the Cyrillic alphabet was very handy for getting around; CTO? translates to STOP!

SPB Buses

In addition to ancient trolley-buses and normal buses, there is an extensive network of minvans. Using these “marshrutka” is a somewhat hairy experience for a non-Russian speaker. Frequently packed solid, notes (typically 20 roubles) often had to be passed up hand-to-hand to the driver (who, needless to say, was making change and driving at the same time). Requests to stop were shouted to the driver, but not being sufficiently confident with my Russian phrases, I just got out when a Russian speaker was getting out at more or less the right place…

In contrast official taxis were outrageously expensive, most asking 500 roubles (>10 GBP) to go anywhere. Locals, however, would often flag down a passing car and negotiate a lift!

SPB Metro3
SPB Metro4

The St Petersburg metro is a tourist attraction in its own right, particularly Line 1 which was opened in 1955. N.B. apparently photography is not allowed, but I was adopting the recommended strategy of being inconspicuous around Russian officials (who have a bad habit of shaking down both tourists and Russians).

Sound clip of metro leaving station (WAV format).

SPB Metro1

Statue of Pushkin in Pushkinskaya station.

SPB Aurora

The cruiser Aurora is credited with firing a blank shot which marked the signal for the assault on the Winter Palace on the 25th October 1917. It is now a museum with a permanent (charmingly translated as “eternal”) mooring on the Neva.


Apparently this former submarine has been turned into a museum piece, although this was not very obvious.

SPB Schipol

Finishing on the “transport” theme, departure gates at Schipol (Amsterdam) airport. Apart from the nasty gate D6, Schipol is an excellent hub airport. Charles de Gaulle is OK (if you don’t have to change terminals) and Heathrow is the pits (although Terminal 5 may improve this).

St Petersburg II