I'm writing this under ‘Notes’ on my phone because my mother was convinced I would be mugged – ‘hugged’ according to autocorrect – if I took my laptop to Russia with me.
In reality, St Petersburg is no more dangerous than any other city. Would you run around London or Manchester waving your dollar about, then be surprised if someone took a fancy to it? Obviously not.
I was also told that Russia in September was likely to be chilly. This was very much a lie. It’s actually warm enough to warrant the occasional sojourn in sandals, and the temperature is definitely high enough for mosquitos to feel at home; some of us are now more bite than skin.
Whilst Putin's less than charming temperament doesn't create a great image of the Russian people, as a nation the Russians are very friendly – sometimes. Smiling, however, is not really ‘a thing’. If you smile too much, people think you're a bit unhinged… Either that, or you're desperate for a shag.
Considering the low ratio of attractive men in Russia, this is perhaps not the message you would want to send. Russian women, on the other hand, can only be described as 'super hot' – even some of the babushkas aren’t bad looking after a few drinks. The streams of fabulously dressed, long-legged Russian women is enough to make a Primark-clad stump like me feel very inadequate.
Nightlife is definitely Russia's forte. Where else in the world can you get a ‘Sex with the Captain’ and some sushi at the same time? We paid a visit to Dumskaya Ulitsa, the clubbing street which proved to be the grimiest experience ever. After a trip to the rather pungent bathrooms, I will never again complain about club toilets. But it was all managed on just a tenner! The lack of cheesy chips at the end of the night was, however, somewhat disappointing.
If you're looking for somewhere super cheap but also really interested, St Petersburg is definitely for you. Full meals at soviet-style canteens are only about two pounds and the metro is 50p a ride – plus, the exchange rate makes you feel like a millionaire.