Greetings! This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for since the beginning of the school year, it’s the one the only McKenna Middlebrook. Yes, this is the probably most anticipated moment of this blog, as all the other students are doing their tests, I will be giving the retelling of the time FES came and conquered St. Petersburg, Russia.
The story starts in the early morning of January, 12th, 2016, well 7:30 so not that early, but early enough for me. The trip started at FES on a bus, as most trips do, so we departed at 7:30 for the train station in Lahti the bus ride was full of tired students, so it was rather quiet besides the off comments here and there. When we arrived at Lahti though around 10:00 in the morning, and the train was leaving around 10:30, as the train arrived, nerves between arose, well for me at least. The train ride was quick, everyone was talking about the few days to come, the adventures we could have! Then we came to the Russian border, where the real challenge was going to occur getting into Russia. Tensions on the train rose, the normal chatter ended as the Russian officials boarded the train, as everyone brought out their brown Finnish passports, most undistinguished from each other but my, navy blue American passport with the golden seal of the bald eagle, it stuck out like a sore thumb. As the Russian authority looked at the passports giving a small glance, but when it came my time, the woman checking my passport looked me, looked back at my passport, looked back at me and it seemed like it lasted hours though it was just a matter of a few seconds, after the final look she stamped my visa and gave me back my passport, the worst part is over. As the Russians left our cabin, the tensions defused and everyone resumed their chatter, the trip had really started then. After that we were weren’t very far from St. Petersburg. Once we arrived in St. Petersburg we boarded another bus, and saw some sights as we drove to our hostel. We soon arrived at the hostel, and all went into our rooms to drop off our bags and we were able to unwind after sitting in trains/buses all day. Soon though many of us got restless and wanted to see the big city! We soon got our opportunity, as we all left for a massive mall that was just a few blocks away from our hostel. We have been told this mall was huge, but we’ve all seen malls before, and personally thinking it was a bit of hyperbole. This mall was MASSIVE! It was four stories tall, it was hundreds of meters of long and had an amazing amount of stores, eat and a grocery store! We spent a few hours there, and many people with bags in hand. The night ended with many people hanging out in a few rooms, that’s really how of the nights ended, actually.
The second day started again, on the early side, we had to leave the hostel around 10:30, the day consisted of actual sightseeing in and off the bus, the first couple of hours was spent listening to the tour guide about the famous landmarks around the city, after the bus tour with and a few stops we went to the world famous Hermitage Museum, which again, is a huge museum that would take a person eight years to see every single piece of art, which is comprised of over six different buildings, making it one of the largest in Russia. Words can’t really describe how beautiful this museum is, rooms made gilded in gold, chandeliers made out real crystals, rooms full of paintings dating back to the late 1700’s and not to mention the Ancient Egyptian artifacts they have! We spent a few hours at the museum before heading back to the hostel before the evening's activities, which was a hockey match between SKA St. Petersburg vs. Slovan Bratislava, in a thrilling 3-2 victory for SKA! Where SKA had a comfortable 2-0 lead in the second period but squandered it, by the third making it 2-2, and by the last few minutes the fans were on the edge of their seats, and with SKA scoring their third goal in the final seconds of the match to the leave the fans rejoiced!
The third day was the final full day in the city, again another early start, this time 10:00, where we went to another museum but this time it was a museum about Russia, but made it up into miniatures, it was made so you could see all the different parts of Russia, starting in the east with St. Petersburg, down to the Black Sea, up through Moscow and into Siberia! This was a fascinating museum, because it was one of the most in depth museums I have ever been to, because all the details that have been put into every single piece of that museum. It was extremely, extremely fascinating. Again after that, we saw more of the city of the parts we didn’t see in the past two days, but again we went back to the hostel for an afternoon to ourselves, which was nice because you really never get enough rest while on a trip, so just being able to lay down for an hour, it gives you that extra energy for the night to come! What happened that night, you say? Well, we had an evening of dining and seeing some traditional Russian dances, at the Palace of Grand Duke Nikolai, which was interesting for me because I participated in one of those Russian dances, thanks to some perfect placement. Then the final day was actually early, we had to leave at 9:00! We went to another mall, for a while, and after that brief shopping trip we went back to the train station where we had to wait for our train and it was a bittersweet moment because we’re all tired and want to go home, but St. Petersburg is such a beautiful and wonderful city, so it was sad to leave! As we got back onto the train and go to the Finnish border, everyone was a lot calmer, because we’ve all been through this, plus the people checking our passports were Finnish so most everyone was a lot calmer. Again, the train ride was super quick even though it lasted almost four hours, and we arrived back in Lahti around five o’clock in the evening, and got back to FES around eight or eight thirty in the evening.
After the third full day, January 15th, in St. Petersburg, you see a lot of things and can take many things with you, you get to see the world in a different light. If you ever have the chance to go to see St. Petersburg, I would highly recommend it, because it’s such an amazing city. So yeah, that was FES in St. Petersburg, I hope you enjoyed it! (Because I know I did)