We made it across!
The border crossing (which, as Damien has reminded me, was preceeded by an 8km lineup of trucks) was completely uneventful...a breeze, even.
We rode from Ivangorod, at the border, to St Petersburg in one afternoon. Made for a bit of a late arrival, but all's well.
The Russian countryside is interesting....the first little ways almost reminded me of Sudbury - very remote, wild, northern looking forests and fields - however every now and then, you'd catch a glimpse of a huge factory, crane, train station, or run-down bridge on the horizon.
As we approached St. Petersburg, conditions became more pastoral, with small towns farming towns every 10km or so. Lots of jars of berries, potatoes, and mushrooms for sale on the side of the highway.
The suburbs of St. Petersburg were actually sort of nice - old, elegant apartment buildings, all kind of run down and overgrown, but still lively - big parks, lots of traffic.
We descended a hill (from the top of which the Nazis supposedly directed the siege of Leningrad) into the city proper. Apparently all cities everywhere have a long, straight stretch of ugly highway, flanked by shopping malls and McDonalds (Here spelled out phonetically in Cyrillic).
The city itself is quite stunning - it actually seems to gleam in the sunlight. I've never seen anything like it. We must have arrived on some holiday - sitting in a downtown park, we saw no less than 7 separate wedding parties celebrating outdoors - horns, smashing champagne bottles, releasing doves, taking highly co-ordinated photographs - quite something.
A very stylish place. THe metro, which seems to be 500m underground, is lit with antique fixtures and chandeliers, and is suprisingly easy to navigate. It makes Toronto's look dirty and provincial.
One other notable is that it seems perfectly in order and normal to walk down the street or sit in the park and drink beer. Or stronger.
In any case, we leave for Moscow tomorrow morning, and should arrive within a week or so, at which point more updates will flow?