My Birthday Weekend in Verona

Having just celebrated my birthday this year, I was encouraged to look back on the photos from the surprise birthday trip I received in 2012.  An amazing trip to Verona. Three fantastic days in an absolutely incredible (and highly recommended) Italian city.

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This trip solidified my already strong belief that Italy is the best European country for weekend breaks.  Why?  Well, how about a list:

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Seven Girls in Greece

On family holidays, we have always stayed in nice places.  Often large villas, sometimes hotels.

And I must admit, I do like staying in nice places.  I mean, I really like staying in nice places.  But it wasn’t until I went to Greece with a group of girl friends that I realised that accommodation simply isn’t the most important thing.  Good trips aren’t dependent on where you stay.  What matters is where you go and who you go with.

At the end of July 2011, at about 10pm one evening, six friends and I boarded a flight from Heathrow to Athens.  I think we landed in Athens at about 4am.  We gathered our luggage and searched for a bus that would take us to the port.

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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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The Imperator: A Funny Russian Restaurant

The Impertor 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.

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The First Night in St Petersburg

We arrived in St Petersburg at around 6pm. We then went through passport control, where the airport staff looked particularly frightening.  Then we quickly found our bags – although it did involve a brief dash across the airport in snow boots when I saw our bag from a few 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.

 

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Travel Upgrades

 

Flying Club Europe

My First Photo on the Blog!

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 traveling 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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