My favorite travel memory of 2017 was my trip to the cultural capital of Russia, Saint Petersburg, or Peter as the locals call it. Having never been to Russia I was somewhat apprehensive but that ended on arrival. The city is modern and very clean with an extrensive subway system that is fast, beautiful and easy to use plus it avoids traffic which does get jammed. Locals all though they don't smile to strangers were very friendly and helpful. The tourist attractions are less crowded in the summer than in other parts of Europe which adds to the delight. Something quite unique in summer are the white nights in this far northern city the sun does set but the sky stays bright all night. The city has a series of canals and reminded me of Amsterdam only much larger. Highlights included visiting the Hermitage, The Church of the Spilled Blood which lies along the famous shopping avenue, Nevsky Prospect. This is the place to see and be seen. The metro itself is a tourist photo spot and I was not the only one taking lots of photos there. Plus you have plenty of palaces to visit along with gardens. There really is a lot to see. My only regret is I had booked my ticket to leave just before a huge festival. So check the Russian hollidays before you go. I bought a Russian phrasebook but mostly just winged it. I would recommend this to people who have done a fair amount of traveling or who are adventerous not because of any scams or danger, which I didn't find, but just the general difficulty of traveling in a country with few English speakers. Church of the Spilled Blood Russian signs are not as easy to figure out as say in Spain. If you can handle that you are well rewarded and it can be quite a bargain to boot.
Mariinsky Theatre opera house- Russians believe only fools smile to strangers in public!Festival at Nevsky Prospect in front of the Kazan cathedalRussian Imperial throne room in the HermitageLavish Soviet metro station