st. petersburg – the first layover pt.I

my new job opened up on a high note. its like my employer is poking fun at me; saying “aren’t you glad you quit your boring old job as an architect and came with us?” i do miss it, but HELL YEAH.

they sent me to st petersburg in russia for my first layover. imagine this; its a 5 hour flight from dubai to russia and they let me stay and explore for 24hours. with meal allowances. can i just melt from sheer gratitude now?


“Zdravstvujtye” (pronounced; zdrah-stvooy-tee) is the russian way of saying hello formally; and HELLO RUSSIA! personally i find their alphabetical characters really interesting; similar to japanese ones. then again, anything foreign to me is always interesting.

we landed at 6pm; and got an hour bus ride to the hotel which was so conveniently located along Nevsky Prospect, considered the main avenue of the town cutting through the historical centre of the cit . as st petersburg was a first for many of the crew members, we decided to do some sight seeing right after albeit some of us being really tired. we’re in a new destination, of course we’d take the chance to explore no matter what!


the beautiful autumn season during august also meant that the sun sets only at about 9pm and the temperature was at a nice 20degrees. after being in dubai’s sweltering heat for a good 2 months; it was good to enjoy some cool weather. my prior research mentioned how saint petersburg was the most ‘western’ part of russia. and i could see why. walking through town; it felt a little like belgium, luxemburg and paris art nouveau all rolled up into one. There were large pedestrian walkways, squares dotted between tall stone buildings with intricate ornamentation.

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Kazan Cathedral (Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р); a russian orthodox church dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan. We didn’t manage to get the time to go in but my first impression was what a beautiful university it was. turns out to be a cathedral instead. HAH.

Opposite the cathedral was the Art Nouveau Singer House (Дом компании) also known as the House of Books (Дом книги); part of a historical-cultural heritage of the street. Used to be the headquarters for the Singer Sewing Machine Company; it now houses the city’s largest book store (hence the name) after Russia’s October Revolution in 1919.

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fooling around with the chocolate santa claus; because chocolate is the way into my heart. one thing to note, all the buildings were of similar height; about 7 storeys, to comply to the city’s building code of structures not being allowed to be higher than the Winter Palace (Tzar’s residence) at 23.5m.


this is similar to Florence in Italy towards the cathedral and Athens in Greece towards the Parthenon. Interesting how many cities have this to maintain a kind of hierarchy in their streetscape structure. *how geeky am i. you can just slap me now*


anyways, so we took a nice stroll towards the Winter Palace (Зи́мний дворе́ц); which was from 1732 to 1917 the official residence of the Russian monarchs. It now houses the Hermitage Museum; but was closed by the time we got there. It costs an adult foreigner 400Rubles; citizens of Russian and Belarus 150Rubles. Hmm. However its free on every first Thursday of the month and to all children and students. So if you’re trip doesn’t coincide with the first Thursday, remember to bring your student card. or fake one. who really knows? oh, you didnt read it here by the way.

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