Our last day in Russia (a week ago today) also happened to be my 29th birthday. Spending it riding bikes with one of my fave people was definitely the way to go. The day in pictures:
We started out by climbing the 200-odd steps of St. Isaac’s cathedral to admire the view.
Then it was time to head to Krestovsky Island for a bike ride and picnic.
We arrived at Jet Set and were excited to see that their rental bikes were actually quite stylish.
The plan was to get there, get the bikes, and ride off to have our picnic. But we were forced to adapt our plans thanks to the vagaries of Russian business. The guy behind the counter responded to my “strasvuytya” by saying, “Hello. We’re closed.” I thought I must have misunderstood, given that their opening hours had begun two hours previously and my grasp of the language is rather uncertain, but Dottie’s discussion with the guy confirmed it. Apparently the man who had the cash box had not yet shown, leaving us out of luck for the moment.
So we went to plan B, and spread out our picnic on a nearby monument.
Our leftovers went to the ducks.
Then we crossed our fingers and headed back to the bike stand, which, it turned out, was finally open. We left our passports and my cell phone as a deposit and we were riding at last. After a week of walking our legs off, it felt great to be moving so fast.
We could only rent the bikes for an hour, unfortunately, but during that time we pretty much covered the park. Like most places in Russia, it ranged from picturesque to . . . a bit rundown.
After an hour, we returned the bikes with a sigh. The bike rental guy started chatting with Dottie, admiring her language skillz while marveling that an American would bother to learn Russian when all Russians speak English (note: this was not our experience, and the conversation was taking place entirely in Russian, but the friendliness was appreciated). We reclaimed our passports and headed back to the city center, where we went on a boat ride along the canals and the Neva, and finished up with dinner at the Caviar Bar at the Grand Hotel Europe. I won’t bore you with the photos of our meal (yes, we took them) but I have to include this pic of my surprise birthday dessert, ordered by Dottie right under my nose (my Russian would not impress anyone). Thanks, friend!