St Petersburg

Artificial stress

Our final day in St. Petersburg was as uneventful as our first day. We arrived in St. Petersburg via the sleeper train from Moscow around 7:30am and slept until 2pm. We ate lunch at an American-themed steakhouse near our hotel and then had a drink at our hotel’s rooftop bar, miXup. The drinks were way too expensive but my “Kurant Kiks” mojito was excellent.

While at miXup, Sergei called and asked if we wanted to go on a boat tour of the city. The weather was kick-ass and Peter and I thought it sounded like an excellent idea, so we finished our drinks and walked down Nevsky Prospect to meet the group at the designated meeting place. Everyone was there except for Sergei and Al who were nowhere to be found. Actually, they could be found… in a bar, drinking vodka.

Max worked a deal with the boat tour lady: For 600 rubles each, we would get a private tour, however, the tour would be in Russian. Max called Sergei and informed him of the plan and stated that we would all meet at the boat in about 15 minutes. Max, Irina, Dario, Anya, Peter and I went to the boat with the tour guide. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. After waiting 30 minutes of waiting for Sergei and Al, the tour guide recommended that she start the tour as time was limited. The tour guide spoke to Max in Russian and Max translated her statements to us in English. This, in itself, was funny.

About an hour after boarding the boat, Irina called Sergei (for the second time) and demanded that he and Al get to the boat immediately. Sergei and Al arrived about ten minutes later with a bottle of wine, a bottle of cognac and cheese.

Sergei was all flustered and stressed with the situation. Sergei climbed on to the boat and stated (in a very animated way), “I vas having nice time with Al. Relaxing. Enjoying voodkah and all of dah sudden, I get phone call stating dat ‘entire boat is vaiting for me’ and I must get to boat immediately. Dis is artificial stress. I do not like artificial stress. I have enough stress. I do not need artificial stress. I brought vine for girls and cognac [for the guys] but I forgot cups”.

No cups? No problem. The boat driver opened a cupboard and pulled out a stack of plastic cups. Sergei poured wine for Anya and I. He then poured a giant shot of cognac for the tour guide who immediately dumped it in the cup with her coffee.

Artificially stressed or not, we were set to begin our boat cruise of St. Petersburg.

The boat cruise was better than the midnight boat cruise we did a couple of days prior. As beautiful as St. Petersburg is, I couldn’t help but think about how hard Russian life seems. I don’t know how to describe it but it just seems like Russian life is a hard life and the numbers back it up. The average lifespan for Russian males and females is 64 and 76 years, respectively. This, compared to 78 and 82 in the United Kingdom and 76 and 81 in the United States.

After the boat cruise, we walked to dinner and lost Sergei and Al along the way. Apparently, they detoured to get cash but later revealed that they had been drinking vodka in a bar. Dinner drew to a close around 1am and then it was time for coffee/tea, or in Al’s case, ice cream.

After tea, everyone went back to their respective hotel rooms and apartments with the exception of, you guessed it… Sergei and Al who went clubbin’. My liver hurt just watching the two of them.

Overall, the trip was good given the lack of sleep and really crappy weather. Weather can make or break a trip and Peter and I are on a string of bad weather trips this year.

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