Using public transportation has always been a daunting task for me. This may seem like a trivial fear for most people but, for me, it was well justified. I grew up in a small town in rural Wisconsin. To put it in perspective, my town didn’t have stoplight, let alone buses or a metro station. Public transportation was completely nonexistent in my life. I knew when I arrived in Saint Petersburg that I would have to rely on public transportation. Finally I could face my fear of public transportation. Though, I was completely overwhelmed when I first arrived in Russia I made sure that I felt comfortable with the culture, language and city before I tackled public transportation.
To my relief and surprise I found the Saint Petersburg metro easy to navigate, user friendly and inexpensive. My first task was to get myself a metro card. I slid the cashier 1000 rubles (which is about 15 dollars) and got myself a metro card that was loaded with remaining 940 rubles (60 for the card itself). Each ride cost less than a dollar, so the 940 rubles on my card lasted me about 3 weeks. The card allows you to enter the metro in a quick and stress-free fashion. It even works on the scanner through your wallet! No need to take the card out every time!
My first Saint Petersburg metro experience happened in the station right on Nevsky Prospect (one of the busiest streets in Saint Petersburg). I was in awe. The hustle and bustle of people was memorizing. I found my way through the paying station, which is simply just a turnstile that lets you go through once you scan you metro card. Then I walked through a fairly large hallway the led to a set of escalators. When I think of escalators, I envision a 10-20 second ride down a moving staircase. I was in for a surprise. This was the deepest, longest and strangest escalator ride I’ve ever experienced. The escalators take you 52 meters deep underground! The decent down the escalator takes about 2 minutes, but I could be slightly exaggerating. My favorite thing to do while riding down the escalator is watch what people do on the other side. I enjoy looking at their fashion choices, what they are reading and sometimes their overall behaviors. You would be surprise what you can learn about the culture of a foreign country by observing people on the metro.
This may be biased but my favorite metro station is the one I use everyday. It’s called Narvskaya, although originally it was going to be called Stalinskaya after Joseph Stalin, but due to political climate and Stalin’s death in March of 1953 it was changed to Narvskaya. The new name comes from the historical structure Narva Triumphal Gate, which is located right outside of the metro station. Narvskaya is on the red line, which happens to be the oldest line in the city. The station was opened in November 1955. The metro station itself is gorgeous. The station has many white marble and bronze statues on the wall. Every day I get to walk through this beautiful hall and appreciate the work that went in to making such a unique and stunning metro station.
By: Ashlyn King
Program: Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP)
Term: Summer 2016