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Saturday, June 30, 2012 | First day in Sankt Petersburg

We have to get up early. Why is not exactly clear, for on board ship we are on Finnish time, which is one hour ahead of German time and one hour behind of the Russian. Confusing. Especially since our ever so clever smartphones and laptops are constantly adjusting their built-in clocks – for the most part incorrectly.

Consequently we have only the vaguest notion of what time it is. Today the alarm goes off and at around 6 o‘clock we are at breakfast. The ferry has already slowed down and we will shortly be arriving at the port of St. Petersburg.
After breakfast, I do my last bit of packing. The ferry has already been docked for quite a while before passport control gets to our cabin. Half an hour later, we are allowed to disembark, only to have to hang around with the Editourmobil for another two and a half hours at the customs post. Altogether we have to go though no fewer than three checkpoints before we finally manage to leave the port behind us and get on our way to the city centre. Before we go any further, our first job is to get to a supermarket to buy an SIM card. For the trifling sum of €10, and without the faintest idea what sort of deal we were getting, we purchase what seems like a pretty decent mobile Internet connection. Further information is not forthcoming since the service provider’s internet site and relevant tariffs are all in Russian. Makes no odds, at least we are for the moment back on the web again.

Afterwards, we rapidly buy a few more things then go and get a bite to eat in a huge shopping centre with hundreds of shops, some of which, we note, are of German origin. Finally we visit a friendly petrol station nearby to fill up with water and diesel and dispose of waste. So far, so good, I think to myself. Everything seems to be going smoothly despite the language barrier.

It is already late afternoon before we find a suitable parking space in a quiet backwater just off the main street, adjacent to a high-rise block. Whilst Rolf and Felix busy themselves with some technical stuff, I get myself organised, do some writing and sort out a few bits and pieces on-line. Before we know where we are, it’s nearly 10 o’clock and our stomachs are rumbling. Fortunately we have some baguettes in the fridge. We’ve earned them!