Swan Lake at the Mariinsky Theatre

Before we left for St Petersburg, we decided to book tickets to see ‘Swan Lake’ at the Mariinsky Theatre.  While I normally do a lot of research on things to do in a certain area, this was the first time that I’d actually booked something.  And it was fantastic.

Firstly, it gave our trip a bit of a focus.  We had to plan our time around the theatre visit and it meant that we were a little bit more organised throughout.  Secondly, the show was fantastic.  Neither of us had ever been to the ballet before and, despite being a little bit apprehensive, we loved it.

However, there were a few minor hiccups.  Mainly, that for the first two acts, I didn’t have a clue what was going on!

A Panoramic Photograph of the Mariinsky Theatre

A Panoramic Photograph of the Mariinsky Theatre

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Imperator

This is the name of restaurant that we visited in St Petersburg.  It was a strange restaurant, mainly because we were the only people in it.  The DK Travel Guide states the following:

The Strelka has a number of restaurants but none of them can match the Imperator for price.  Tucked away in the basement of the Academy of Sciences, next to the Kunstkammer, it serves the usual mix of European and Caucasian cuisine, with the slightly odd addition of Mexican dishes.  The small non-smoking room should be booked ahead.

The first part is certainly true – the prices were very reasonable.  I’m not quite sure what ‘Caucasian cuisine’ entails but the menu was certainly very varied.  The meal itself was pleasant, if not exceptional, but the service was fantastic.  We had already eaten a few times since arriving in St Petersburg and the service had been pretty poor each time.

English: Saint Petersburg (Russia), Old Saint ...

St Petersburg

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Photographing the Snow in Russia

St Petersburg was very, very cold.  Thankfully, we had packed accordingly, with numerous leggings, thermals and socks.  Even so, my hands did become painfully cold on a number of occasions.  Taking my gloves off to sort out the camera was always a bit of a struggle!

However, I’d say it was worth it.  St Petersburg was beautiful in the snow and while my photography doesn’t do it justice, it might give you a little idea of what a winter weekend in St Petersburg has to offer.

P1020141

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The First Night in St Petersburg

We arrived in St Petersburg at around 6pm. We had to go through passport control, where the airport staff looked particularly frightening, and were lucky enough to find our bag within a couple of minutes. I say that as though it happened really smoothly, but I did actually have to dash across the airport in snow boots when I saw our bag from a hundred meters away! We then debated whether or not to get a taxi to our hotel (the easy option) or try and find our way there using public transport.

We opted to try public transport.St Petersberg

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Travel Upgrades

This week on TheRopesinLondon will henceforth be known as ‘St Petersburg Week’.  Mainly because I intend to write predominantly about St Petersburg.  I have plenty of pictures and stories to share so keep checking back for updates!

Flying Club Europe

Do you remember last week when I spoke about much I LOVE flying? Well today I love it even more!

For some completely unknown reason, we ended up travelling to and from St Petersburg in ‘Club Europe’.  It transpires that we actually booked this but neither of us remember doing that and the prices didn’t seem to reflect it.  So it felt just like a free upgrade!

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Long-Haul Flights: Love or Hate?

English: Long Haul to JNB

It is only in the last few years that I have stopped hating long-haul flights.  I think it was the boredom that I found really frustrating.  And being so uncomfortable that you can’t possibly fall asleep.  I would end up feeling so tired and irritable that even the films available didn’t have a chance of cheering me up.  Add in an abysmal meal and that probably explains my hatred.

So what changed?  Because in the last few years I’ve come to quite enjoy long-haul flights – which probably isn’t a bad thing, having spent 23 hours on three different flights to travel from Hoi An to Heathrow last year.

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Eating Italian Food in Vietnam

I know, I know.  When in Rome and all that.  But is it so wrong to want a little bit of Rome in Vietnam?  I understand that it’s important to eat local food when abroad, but does that mean I can’t indulge in an epic spag bol in Hanoi?

The Italian restaurant in question is El Mediterraneo and the food was AMAZING.  It isn’t just me who thinks so either – TripAdvisor has numerous equally positive reviews (although it also has a few rather scathing comments dotted about).  I don’t in anyway regret choosing to eat there because it was a lovely meal and I really do love Italian food.  But, now, looking back, I can’t help but think that it was a little bit strange to visit an Italian restaurant in Hanoi.  It wasn’t as though we had weeks and weeks available in which to sample the Vietnamese cuisine, so I wonder whether I should have been more experimental (it was, after all, me who insisted on having an Italian meal).   In total, we visited this restaurant twice, although we did spend a few days away from Hanoi in between visits.  If I recall correctly, I also had a cheese and ham toastie in Vietnam.

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