Starting the day with ramen at the Baltic Sea. A fisher is coming back from the sea and pushes his boat on the trailer, while a family enjoys a breakfast on the beach. It's fun to watch people going about their daily lifes. My father once told me, that "gaffen" (to rubberneck) is an age old tradition for the dutch. I guess that's where my dutch roots kick in.
It's about noon on a monday, traffic is crazy. I ride into the heart of the city with my inner compass, where I ask some cops where we are. I only have a rough map of St. Petersburg in my tankbag, but it's pretty easy to find Nevski Prospekt, the main road. From there, I just have to find the right turnoff to get to the hotel. Who wants to pay for a city tour if you can have it for free?
I park my bike in the garage of the insanely overpriced Ibis hotel. I booked it through the visa agency and got a discount. Most important: they have a secure underground parking.
With only a few rubles and the cheap point and shoot camera in my pockets, I head out in the city.
The sign probably means: "You better run for your life if you want to cross the road here!"
The river Neva after a 4km walk on Nevski Prospekt!
The sport bikes zoom by at insane speeds, pulling wheelies and other crazy stuff.
The youngsters are already catching up on their scooters. At least they are not too fast for my camera.
Having printed out a fair amount of maps I got on yandex.ru (the russian version of Google), I still wanted to get some real maps. I find detail maps of Karelia and Murmansk region in a book store. The Karelia map is one of the most beautifully made maps I've ever seen. Sorry, I'm a map nerd.
My stomach is angry. I take a random road and enter a restaurant that looks neat. One of the waiters speaks english and I enjoy an amazing meal. But wow is it expensive. Seems like I'm in a restaurant catered to tourist. About 1000 Rubels for the meal and one beer.
After finishing up, the waiter hits me up for a conversation and is interested in my trip. His name is Lenny, a kind and open minded guy. We talk about a lot of stuff, differences between Switzerland and Russia, living in the city vs. living in the countryside, vacation, etc. We end up drinking vodka together - of course. I expected it to take longer, until I get my first vodka, but hey.
After two hours of drinking and talking (there are only a handfull of other people), the restaurant closes. We go outside and get some beer. His buddy (forgot the name, sorry) joins in and we drink in the backyard of the restaurant.
An interesting border, russian roads, difficult refueling, meeting a lot of nice people - this has been a great start! A little bit drunk and full of enthusiasm I go to bed.