If I was in any doubt about the beauty of St Petersburg, the sunset on my third day swept that away.
After being turned away from the St Isaacs Cathedral tower, the best view of the city but closed for another hour, I wandered off on one of my aimless jaunts around town following my nose and my Lonely Planet map for things that might be nearby or around the next corner. This is when I am at my happiest and when I usually come to understand and like a place.
I headed first for the Mariinsky Theatre, took a photo and checked the ballet timetable for shows. The map then told of a church in a photogenic setting on a canal further down the road. Off I set.
Along the way, I passed “New Holland”, a decent chunk of central city land, made an island by surrounding canals and with classic architecture on board, apparently purchased by Roman Abramovich.
As often happens in Russia, from Church No. 1, I saw an incredible dome of another church in the distance and had to investigate. This then lead me off the map to an amazing Church with a cool memorial to soldiers of a different time.
By now, I was already lost in a world of awe and frenzied photo taking. As I tried in vain to capture the church on my phone camera, the sun began to set behind the building and there started a wonderful adventure of canals, sunsets and reflections.
St Petersburg was saying Hello.