“Oh! So you are from Holland? That means that, eh, you wear wooden shoes every day? And Dutch people always eat cheese right?” These among others are the main questions I get when I introduce myself to students and tell them I’m from Holland. Elder people ask about the Dutch bicycles, canals and of course Amsterdam. Every age group has its own interests and opinions about a country. But how can you judge or form an opinion about a country where you have never been before? We, Dutch people, eat more than only cheese ;-). My first thoughts about Russia made me think of my history books, vodka and the typical Russian doll that fit inside each other; a Matryoshka doll. It’s funny how a 3-day-visit can change your opinion and make you realize that there is much, much more.
Last weekend the City of Lappeenranta gave me the opportunity to travel to St. Petersburg and discover the city. I joined a high school group of 16-17-year-olds to travel with. For me it was great to see the difference between Finnish and Dutch high school students and the different behavior in the bus for example. In my high school period the bus was full of noise, screaming and singing people. Believe me; I slept for three hours in the bus with Finnish students, there was almost no noise at all. After a 4-hour- drive we finally arrived and it was time for some sightseeing. I can tell you it was great, so much people on the streets, the noise, cars and of course, these amazing buildings. We went to the shopping mall to take a look in some shops, the prices are crazy. The scarf I bought is in European countries, same shop as this, about 10 euros less. So no wonder they like to shop in Lappeenranta.
In the night it was time for a sightseeing tour by bus, we drove through the City of St. Petersburg and saw almost all the famous churches and buildings. The guide told us about the history. My favorite church is the Blood Church, the colors and golden roofs are so beautiful! The second day I went to the Hermitage. That is HUGE. I took something like three hours before we finally were back where we started. I was pretty proud to see that there was a part with Dutch art in that amazing museum.
On the last day we went to the Tsar’s Summer Palace. It was a pity that they were busy with renovation and a lot of places were closed. The garden was also empty and not as I had seen before in the pictures but I can imagine, if you are there in summer time, it’s gorgeous.
I’m so happy that I had the change to visit St Petersburg; it’s amazing that the distance between Lappeenranta and St. Petersburg is so less and that you’re in such another world after only four hours by bus. I promise you St. Petersburg, I’m a new fan. I like you, your buildings and the shops, the streets, the crazy expensiveness and the old cars. I will come visit you again, soon.
Not a goodbye but a meet you again.
See you St. Petersburg!