My view on Saint Petersburg, 20180921
I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Cold war. The US army was in this country and we had missiles pointing to the east. Geography class was easy: a dozen European countries and there was the Sovjet Union. They were the decepticons and we were the autobots and that is all I needed to know. Then there was the anti-Sovjet Hollywood. Rocky 4: Rocky was fighting this big Russian guy who was trained by computers, took steroids and had no emotion. Rocky was a self-made man, hard working with passion and emotion and kicked his ass. Rambo 2: Rambo is being tortured by some Russian army chief in Vietnam. Escapes and kills an entire Sovjet- and Vietcong army. Beverly Hills Cop: that bad guy Victor Maitland wasn't he Russian? And then that Elton John song Nikita. He stalks this big fur hat wearing Russian girl in his red Rolls Royce convertible. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg-Q-Acv4qs
Anyway: didn't know what to expect from Russia and Saint Petersburg. Rumors are always that Russians are rude and loud in hotels and resorts abroad. I've never experiences that myself though. Aircraft landed. Going through customs was fast without any waiting. They have lots of booths and when one is free, a red light turns green and it is your turn. 10 minutes later your suitcase is at the baggage claim. Within 30 minutes I was in the bus to the city costing 40 rubles (€0.50). Very efficient, this is a great start! Four-star hotel, for the €60, was extremely good. You cannot get this kind of quality in a big city in Western Europe for this money.
Getting around is easy: metro is fast and cheap. Same for the (mini-)busses. Lots and lots and lots of stuff to see. Attractions are cheap and weren't that crowded if you go early or later in the afternoon. I didn't have to stand in line anywhere and bought most tickets online. Most people on the streets do not speak English but they try to help. Everyone is polite and kind and it feels safe walking the streets at night. Public transportation, food and hotels are cheap. There is a lot of energy in the city with street musicians everywhere. Lots of tour buses and groups but not as bad as in Prague or London. The guys on the streets 'working' the tourist are not aggressive at all. The city is clean, fantastic old buildings everywhere and everything is well maintained.
It is a very pleasant city to visit and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and will go back for sure if I can get another cheap ticket.