I had the amazing opportunity to go to Russia during my time on exchange in Sweden. As an American I never dreamed of actually being able to take a trip to this amazing country as the visas and international law can be quite complicated. However, by going with a guided group through either the ports of Helsinki or Tallinn you are able to enter St. Petersburgh for 72 hours visa free no matter where you are from. This was an amazing opportunity, thus I embarked on one of the best vacations of my life with the wonderful friends I have made during my exchange.
We started on a ferry from Stockholm and sailed towards Helsinki where we spent one day exploring the city. After we were back on the boat and sailed towards Russia. We spent three days discovering St. Petersburgh. As an American its easy to have stereotypes of what Russia might be like. It’s a hot topic politically and you can easily find lots of jokes and propaganda about the country and its people. However, after visiting, I can say I was truly embarrassed for having any prejudices before I went.
St. Petersburgh for example is a very safe city, despite it being a large metropolitan area. People are also very kind, and many people approached us when they heard us speaking English out of curiosity and also hoping to practice their own. People were always smiling and dancing everywhere we went. The architecture of the city was also beautiful as it was very well preserved. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful cities I have seen before and one of the best vacations I’ve ever had.
After spending a wonderful three days in Russia we left for Tallinn, Estonia where we spent a day. Tallinn is a quaint little medieval town and one of my favorite places as well. I had the opportunity to go last summer with my family, but it was nice to see again. After all this we were back on the boat sailing towards Sweden.
I was a little nervous to go on this trip and I didn’t really know what to expect. However, the opportunity seemed too good to pass up and I’m so glad I did it. My advice to anyone wanting to take some off the path vacations is to just go and experience the world. Nine times out of 10 it will have been the best decision.