Birthday in Russia: St Petersburg (Part 2)

Started our 2nd day in St Petersburg bright and early by walking over to the Hermitage, which is a minute's walk away from our hotel. The Russian military band was practicing for Victory Day at the huge square in front of the Hermitage building so we caught some snippets!

Day 2 - 6 May 2016

Hung around for about 30 to 40 minutes then we made our way into the Hermitage! A piece of friendly advice for anyone who ever plans to visit the Hermitage in St Petersburg -  BOOK YOUR TICKETS ONLINE

I didn't plan to do so at first but then I read online that the walk-in queue can take up to 2 to 3 hours and ain't nobody got time for that! Info turned out to be true; the walk-in queue was sooooo long when we arrived. But even with our Internet Tickets voucher in hand, we were so lost because the directional signs didn't make sense somehow and we wasted another 1/2 hour trying to figure out where to exchange our voucher for entry tickets!!! This was where we got our 1st taste of how Russian museums suka menyusahkan orang HAHAHAHA

I don't know whether it was just our luck or own incompetence in understanding how Russian attractions work but we encountered problems a few times because their ticketing system is confusing or their entrances are random af - you guys will understand what I mean when I blog about other attractions later on. Haha! Sekarang can ketawa la bila ingat balek but when we were there, the frustration was tak kelakar, geng.

Anyway, lepas kena pekik by one of the Hermitage staff for trying our luck and entering one of the (wrong) lanes provided (who ask your signs to be so unclear, one...), we showed him our Internet Tickets voucher and he instructed us to "walk straight and turn left into a door". Siap dengan exaggerated hand gestures lagi. So we walked straight and turned left into a door, which led to 2 booths marked as "Tour Guides Only

Errrrr... ok? Mungkin kita ownself tour guide for ourselves kot...? Haha.

I am a firm believer in always trying my luck so we got in line anyway, and bila dah sampai depan, the counter staff could only speak in Russian and kept gesturing for us to go straight, straight, go straight. Didn't see any ticketing counters from inside (there were giant pillars blocking our view) so I was skeptical and kept asking her "Straight? Are you sure straight? Straight, straight? You mean straight?" hahahaha how can I be convinced you are giving me the right instructions when your colleague just gave me the wrong ones!!!

But fine, we walked out straight anyway, couldn't see any booths or counters, walked around the pillars, and lo and behold, we saw a makeshift booth marked "Internet Tickets" behind one of the pillars. Wow. Pandai nya space planning korang............................

(Which makes the first staff's instructions to us WRONG, right????? He should have told us to walk straight and turn right, but he made us walk straight and turn left into the "Tour Guides Only" ticketing booths instead. I mean, I bukan nak marah la kan, I cuma nak tegur je ni)

So lepas dah do the exchange, we skipped the lines and went in to the exhibition rooms!

Saliheen made me pose like RuPaul (queen of drag queens) in one of the shots but I'm not posting that one because it is EMBARASSING how tak fabulous I am actually HAHAHA

You guys have NO idea how difficult it was to get a shot without any people wandering in this room. Also, we saw 4 different people take pictures of their feet with the decorative flooring in this room within a span of 15 minutes. Nak post and hashtag #ihavethisthingwithfloors ler tu hahaha

All the pintu ada gold!!!!!!! Kalau takde duit je boleh pajak pintu hahaha

One of my favourite areas!!! You can totally tell from my very enthusiastic stance

A few of the portraits are blank because those generals turned out to be evil and betrayed Russia #informationyoulearnwhenyoueavesdropguidedtours hahaha

I think it took us about 2 hours to explore the exhibition rooms? Which is ok la. Kita banyak buat cerita je with the displayed paintings hahahaha you would have seen it if you follow me on Snapchat! I did save all the clips though, maybe if I rajin I will combine them all into 1 video and post here. 

One of the canals running through St Petersburg! This is the canal that is the closest to our hotel and we passed it many times a day. Passed by Stroganov Palace too! But didn't take pictures because the pathways were busy and teeming with so much human traffic. So we walked to the Kazan Cathedral after that.

Kazan Cathedral! We saw a couple having their wedding photoshoot kat situ. So bagus kan all these couples, can take wedding photoshoots at such a lawa location and in favourable weather! Spent a little bit of time here then walked to the Church of our Saviour of Spilled Blood pulak.

The church was impressive in real life! The architecture and the mosaic so nice, right. Macam mainan haha! History has it the church was built on the exact spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881, which explains the name. Walked around for awhile then we made our way to the nearby State Russian Museum.

Remember I said earlier we realized Russian attractions suka menyusahkan orang??? Hahahaha! Ok, so when we walked to the State Russian Museum, naturally we would walk to the front of the building to look for the main entrance because that's where you'd think you have to masuk from, kan? But no, it wasn't! And lepas dah terpinga pinga sekejap, we eventually figured out that the entrance is this small, secluded door leading to an underground area at the side of the building because we saw people walking in and out. Haha!

Lepas tu masuk through the door, there is a freaking underground maze leading to many different rooms (cloakrooms, exhibition rooms, administration rooms, etc...) and you'll need to follow arrows to get to the ticketing counter. Lepas tu dah patiently wait in line, tiba tiba two burly middle-aged Russian women will very rudely cut in front of you when it's your turn to buy tickets at the counter. Perangai sardine.

Ok fine, I don't know if that happens to everyone, but it happened to me ok. Thanks mangkuk!

Nasib baik the art displayed in the State Russian Museum is really nice, and there were two pieces which became my absolute favourites - 'Storm' by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky painted in 1889, and 'The Last Day of Pompeii' by Karl Bryullov from 1830 - 1833. Not that grand when you see them on a computer screen but when I first saw them in real life, I was smitten!

 (Source: Wikipedia)

(Source: Wikipedia)

Location of both paintings facing each other. I enjoyed this room the most 

Side story: We were approached by two middle-aged women (I can't tell if they were Russian though) while we were trying to figure out the museum entrance, and they asked if we spoke English. I immediately said yes and regretted it a second later!!! You see, sebelum tu, Saliheen already told me to act bodoh and pretend we can't speak English if anyone approaches us on the streets because we didn't want to get caught in some kind of trap or scam. But I think it's easier said than done leh! I immediately replied truthfully because (1) I was caught off guard and (2) They looked like they needed help ok. Rupanya they wanted to pitch some educational programme to us, and I had to hastily say no no no and scurried away... and got scolded by Saliheen thereafter T.T

Tried to look for a halal cafe called Cafe Antalya to have our dinner after that but even after 1++ hours of rounding, we couldn't find it! We became so penat and disheartened! So we ended up eating blini (Russian traditional pancakes which look more like crepes) at a random cafe with English menu near our hotel. Can't remember its name, though! What I do remember is getting excited upon entering another cafe called "Fish Room" before that, and the staff inside speaking only in Russian and gesturing that they have no English menu. Wowow..... susah payah je you guys namakan your kedai "Fish Room" hahahaha THANKS kita dah lapar korang buat kelakar pulak!

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