“Bells around Saint Petersburg when I saw you,
I hope I get what you deserve and this is where I find.
Smoke surrounds your perfect face and I’m falling” – Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Firstly – thanks to the Russian government for their incredible kindness and respect with regards their recent visa laws. I knew I had landed on a golden dream when I attended my second FIFA World Cup tournament in 2018. The price of a match ticket included your visa and public transport, and was cheaper than a visa for those on UK and Ireland passport. A fact I learnt the hard way back in 2016 when I had a visa application rejected on my Irish passport (Ireland being one of the EU countries not included on the Kaliningrad 72 hour visa at the time). But I love Russia. Having now backpacked every former Soviet Union country (all 19 of them – Turkmenistan culminated it), I wanted more of Russia.
The visa loophole
So my trip to Saint Petersburg was visa free! The reason is that following the World Cup, the Russian government made an incredible decision to extend EVERY visa for World Cup ticket holders until 31.12.2018. This meant I could literally visit Russia as many times as I wanted visa free until the end of the year. I had been quite busy since though, touring Poland, Togo and Benin so Russia had to wait. It was worth the wait as I took my 949 city deep journey to…
When I counted my cities, towns and villages visited again, it fell on Saint Petersburg to be 950. Incidentally Jeddah in Saudi Arabia was 900, Agra in India was 800 and Newtownards in Northern Ireland was 1. I opted to stay at the Kino Hostel on Pushkinskaya street and this was brilliant – especially my cosy bed and the great staff here – a special thanks to Vika (Viktoria), Zhenya (Evgenia) and Pawel for making me enjoy my stay so much. Here are 5 reasons to stay here when backpacking in Saint Petersburg, often dubbed “Piter”.
1.Knowledgeable, Friendly Staff
My welcome to the country couldn’t have been better. Immigration at the airport was easy, and I was checked into my room by Zhenya who spoke wonderful English and made me feel at home immediately. The next day I met Vika on reception who helped with directions and is a well travelled girl herself – visible from her Instagram feed. I also met Pavel who greeted me after I returned late after a jaunt through the brilliant bars of the city.
On reception, the Kino Hostel tells you the name of the current member of staff working there – a nice touch using names.
2.Really cosy dorm bed
I normally talk about beds in hostels and they are not always to the best standard, but here I was in the top bunk in room Pyxis 9, and the bed had a locker beside it, 2 lights, 2 sockets for charging, a very cosy duvet. On the last day, I didn’t want to get up as it was so comfortable!
The lockers were also safe and secure.
3.Chill out lounge with free tea, coffee and water
Some hostels have become tight with money and distribution of free tea and coffee and water. I believe these three should always be free in hostels for backpackers. Chill out in the lounge – tea and coffee is always free.
4.Free Wi-Fi and other things throughout
On my first trip to Moscow in 2007, perhaps I was being harsh by telling the hostel they had no Wi-Fi and the computer there was too slow. Things have changed all over Russia though and Wi-Fi is free here and works throughout, as well as the below list.
5.Close to Metro and 24 Hour Bars and Restaurants
The location here on Pushkinskaya street is about a 5 minute walk from the Metro station, also called Pushkinskaya. I loved the Metro system in Saint Petersburg.
As an extra bonus, there are a lot of 24 hour bars and restaurants nearby, including Brynza which had brilliant staff, good food and local beer all at decent prices.
I could write a lot more about the hostel and the city, but time is always of the essence. Here are some more photos from my time here in Saint Petersburg!
Here are the details for booking a bed at the excellent Kino Hostel on Pushkinskaya:
Here are some videos of my stay in wonderful Saint Petersburg:
And the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, Stadium Arcadium which I hummed in my head the entire trip: