30 Days of Indie Travel Project: One Day

Day 9 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project* is about one perfect day of travel.

Travel helps us better appreciate the present moment instead of always looking to the next thing. Describe one perfect day you had while traveling this year. Where were you? What were you doing? And what made it perfect?

My perfect day of travel came exactly when I needed it the most.

I had spent the previous three days agonizing over my lost ATM card and forcing myself to sightsee in chilly, rainy fall weather. My last few days in St. Petersburg were not turning out as I had hoped.

But my losing my ATM card turned out to have a silver lining.

I originally planned to spend my last Friday in St. Petersburg taking a day trip to Petrodvorets (Peterhof). Instead, I spent it retrieving my lost card, which caused me to push my day trip back to Saturday.

The forecast looked good for Saturday so I set my alarm to wake up bright and early. I am a morning person anyway, so rising early with a full day of good weather ahead of me is exactly what I love when I travel. I left the hostel by8:30 a.m. and took the Metro to the end of the line, where I easily found the right marshrutka heading to Petrodvorets. I was the first passenger aboard and the driver immediately engaged me in conversation, asking where I was from and how I liked St. Petersburg (in Russian, of course!).

At the other end, he helpfully told me when to get off and pointed me in the direction of the entrance to the park. This was in stark contrast to my trip to Tsarskoe Selo in pouring rain two days earlier, when I got on the wrong bus, got scolded, then got on the right bus but off at the wrong stop, and then tried to ask for directions only to be scolded for speaking poor Russian.

Petrodvorets exceeded my expectations.

I arrived early enough to beat the crowds and spent time strolling through the Upper Gardens before heading around behind the Grand Palace to the Lower Park. The highlight of Petrodvorets is the Grand Cascade, consisting of dozens of fountains and bronze statues. Normally the fountains are shut off in early October, but because of unseasonably warm weather this year, they were still running when I visited on October 15. Even better, they were not charging admission to the Lower Park as my guidebook said they did.

With perfect weather and a whole day ahead of me with nothing else to see or do, I was able to just wander around the grounds of Petrodvorets for hours. The leaves were still changing colors, and with some fallen on the ground, the whole park had a somewhat magical, romantic feel to it. The vibrant colors also made it a photographer’s dream – I couldn’t put my camera away!

After I covered nearly every inch of the grounds, I made my way back up past the Grand Cascade and to the Grand Palace. While they normally form visitors into groups to take a guided tour of the palace in Russian, because I was on my own and spoke English, they let me in to go at my own pace, which was a pleasure (although they didn’t allow any photos – boo!).

Finally, I left Petrodvorets and walked over to a church a couple blocks away, where I was able to climb the bell tower and enjoy some spectacular views of the entire area before heading back into St. Petersburg.

And to think this perfect day would never have happened if I hadn’t lost my ATM card.

*Throughout the month of November, BootsnAll is inviting bloggers from around the world to join them in a daily blogging effort – the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project –  designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.

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