The train arrived later than planned, but delay was only about an hour. Surprisingly, although Murmansk is way, I mean WAY, up north, the train arrived at the Moscow train station. First thing I did was grab a shoarma. Then I went for the nearby HI St. Petersburg hostel. Not surprisingly, it was fully booked (and Charles, the guy I had met in Khabarovsk hadn't checked in either). They advised me to go to the Holiday Hostel, a hostel close to the Finland station. Having no choice, I headed there.
The weather being very nice helped a lot in easily convincing me of St. Petersburg being the most beautiful city in Russia, and possibly the most beautiful city in Europe. The waterways, the buildings, the wide streets, the restaurants, the parks, the people, St. Petersburg really is a wonderful city.
Most of the time I spent here, I didn't do much at all. My original plan had been to visit St. Petersburg another time, when I would have much more time on my hands for, for example, visiting the Hermitage. Although I had ended up here after all, I decided I wouldn't visit the Hermitage this time round, but that I would come back some other time, to enjoy the museum of museums. I did go to a theater show and visited the Gulf of Finland but mostly I had had it with all the site seeing. I just relaxed.
The hostel was OK. Not great. Staff was invariably friendly and not friendly, mostly, I guessed, because of the Soviet not-so-much-customer-oriented approach to guests. The hostel did have -a quite expensive- laundry service, but for me, convenience won it over price. Still, the beds, at 140Rubles (some $6) a piece were very affordable. The first night I had a four bedded room to myself, but the last two nights I was joined by an Australian couple who had been traveling the world for several months now. At least, the room had a beautiful view on the Neva river and to top it off, the previous occupants had left a Wired.
Apparently, St. Petersburg is a popular place for world travelers. The elder couple I talked to in Moscow also were going to St. Petersburg, and I also met another American couple in St. Petersburg, John and Loni, who had been touring for several months and were planning altogether to keep on traveling for about a year.
In the evening,Loni, John and me drank a couple of beers in a bistro that was pointed out to me by Alexandra, one of the girls working at the hostel. We talked for so long a time, mainly them telling of their journeys, Loni and John came close to missing the last Metro back.