The centre of St Petersburg is very beautiful, very European, very bright. They call it the Venice of the North for good reason. Magnificent eighteenth century palaces, exquisite Orthodox churches, wide streets, stately parks, lots of wrought-iron and eggshell-blue and wooden bridges. However, it has also been raining in a soggy four-seasons-in-one-day kind of way which reminds me of nothing so much as Melbourne weather, so I'm waiting for blue skies before I start photographing things.
Today my friend Georgia and I walked almost the entire length of the city: she wanted to orientate me before I set out on my own tomorrow. One of the best things she showed me was a very lovely, very French, (and therefore completely un-Russian), bohemian cafe, where we ordered the best coffee I've had since leaving Melbourne. It was a rapturous experience. I intend to go there every day until I leave, so I have the memory to hold on to when downing yet another instant coffee in Bishkek. I may be missing friends and family a great deal, but good food and coffee come a close second. I dream about Yarraville cafes and Thai restaurants and mum's cooking.
I've been enjoying the hospitality of Georgia's family. They live in the suburbs, which, unlike the city center, have a crumbling, rusty Soviet ambience. Lots of abandoned factories, identical Stalin-esque flats, Lenin's face everywhere. Still, in comparison with Moscow, it's a hugely attractive city.
More as it comes to hand!