Kyle’s Journey in Armenia

Just Another Peace Corps Blog

  • Kyle? In Armenia?

    My name is Kyle, and I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Noyemberyan, Armenia. I will live here until August 2008 and am an Information Technology volunteer. In addition to my primary assignment developing my region's WiFi internet, I also teach computer and English classes to area youth. Thank you for visiting!

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24
Jul 2008
Goodbye Armenia, Hello St. Petersburg!
Posted in Peace Corps by Kyle at 2:03 am |

Beyond all expectations, we had a perfectly normal final flight out of Yerevan. Despite waking up at 4:30 AM, paying our last 10,000 dram exit tax, and other possible setbacks, we made it on time out of Yerevan and landed early in the international terminal of Moscow’s airport. Phew, we thought, we made it. We were still concerned as we had to make a 20 km transfer to the domestic terminal, which was dimly lit and best described in Lonely Planet as “soulless”. Three hours later we arrived in St. Petersburg (hereafter StP) to a poorly labeled, but general easy to navigate airport. We expected the same badgering taxi drivers and ripoffs as in Armenia, but we were able to take a city bus, followed by a mini-bus, followed by a km of walking to our hostel. The place we stayed at was called 7Bridges, and is basically this English guy’s apartment which he filled with bunk beds and a couple of showers.

Of course, I am referencing this hostel in the past, as I sit here in our new hostel in St. Petersburg. 7Bridges was just very informal, which came at a price of professionalism. We didn’t get sheets until late, things weren’t done when promised, he never received our reservation, and often left his non-English speaking girlfriend to run things. Regardless, we decided to change hostels today, where I’m now writing from, and it’s clean and comfortable. And there’s no bed-bugs (yes, that was a problem).

Likely you’d rather hear about the amazing features of StP then my ranting about hostels. The first day, the 21st, we did not have much time to explore, as we were all exhausted, but the first thing we noticed are the beautiful canals that line the roads. The city is built on the Gulf of Finland, and reminds me a lot of Amsterdam, the way the canals run through it. There’s a lot less of a system, really, but they are beautiful (as is the rest of the city - great parks and gardens) nonetheless.

Old Castle 2 One of the beautiful canals

The second day we really got a taste of StP. We hopped a mini-bus to the Summer Gardens, where our first stop was the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, built between 1883-1907 where Alexander II was assassinated. After this we walked through the beautifully manicured Summer Gardens, which Peter the I commissioned for his summer home (well done).

Blood Church Kathy and Heather in Summer Gardens

We continued walking to Peter and Paul’s Fortress, which towers over the Neva River and was built when StP was first founded over 300 years ago. Inside are some truly amazing exhibits. For anyone who knows me, the “Rocketry and Astrophysics” section really brightened my day; they had a real Soviet rocket and lots of interesting propaganda on the Russian space program. I especially reading the poster below about how a Soviet astrophysicist figured out a formula to “conquer the universe”.

Read carefully

A Suyiz Capsule (actual) from the 80s

The cathedral inside the fortress was also beautiful, and reminded me of St. Peter’s in Vatican City, with a lot of gold and a huge alter. Interestingly enough, the entire family of Peter, Catherine, Ivan, and other famous Greats and Terribles have above-ground caskets within the church. Cool, but kind of creepy. The rest of the day we wandered around town on the way back to our hostel, with the only interesting part being a walk through the park where we ran into a lady with a BEAR. Yes, a baby bear. It was actually really sad, as the bear wasn’t happy to be there and exploited for pictures, but it’s certainly something you wouldn’t see in Central Park.

Tomorrow we’re heading out for Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace, which were the summer homes of the two Czars and are supposed to be absolutely beautiful. We are also going to attempt it by only public transportation, which I heard was the only trick Huidini couldn’t do.

To get a better understanding of StP, I’d recommend looking at all my pictures, which are now online (and shouldn’t be updated daily). The URL is http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgiff. Dobry noche!


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The views expressed herein are the views of the author and do not express those of Peace Corps Armenia or the United States government.