Have you ever been heartbroken and alone in a city? That’s what St. Petersburg is to me. I went there as a shell of a person.
In Russia, I found it easy to just exist and float through life. As a foreigner, you don’t owe anyone anything. So you can check into a hostel, cry in bed, and half-assedly try to socialize. People are all over the place in a hostel, so it’s ok to be weird. It’s relatively safe so you can kind of wander in and out of shops and meander through book stores.
This was my second trip to St. Petersburg. This time, I went in the winter so there were no white nights. Still, St. Petersburg is so beautiful on every corner. The original French architecture is artificial, frivolous, and overly decorative. I love it all. It is the least Russian city in Russia. You kind of need to search for Russian food amidst all the European cuisines represented in downtown Petersburg.
I got to see some really awesome things there while I was being sad. Even if you’re too busy being your worst self, sometimes you meet some cool people that let you tag along to their adventures.
With some new Turkish friends, I acted as an unofficial translator and found myself at the Freud Dream Museum and Dostoevsky Museum. It was a lot of fun.
Petergof is for happy summer days. Peter and Paul Fortress, and the Museum of Torture, is for dreary winter days that drag on and on.
Forget the Hermitage. While it is only the most jaw-dropping, breath-taking museum in the world, this time I decided to visit Kunstkamera. Kunstkamera is the first museum in Russia. They have all sorts of zoological oddities and anthropology exhibits. I guess they are most famous for their weird samples of deformed babies preserved in glass jars. Just Google it to see lots of contextless images. According to this probably-not-very-reliable website, “people ascribed physical abnormalities or disabilities to supernatural powers so opening this museum was a way of raising the awareness of medical conditions that can be explained scientifically as opposed to make-belief nonsense.”
Sometimes a city is engrained in your mind as an emotion. I think that’s what makes traveling so special. St. Petersburg was a place I visited four years prior and opened my eyes to Russian Orthodox iconography. Cathedral of Spilled Blood is still one of my favorite churches in the world. However, a city can be created and recreated in your mind. I am so lucky for the opportunity to have traveled throughout Russia numerous times.