We made the cataclysmic mistake of trying to do our own laundry in a launderette. Whoa! I donít think this experience will ever heal, it is permanently scorched into my brain. To put you at ease to start with, we actually did manage to get our laundry washed and dried, so in the end it was a success, even if it did take us about five hours.
We gathered our clothes, jumped on the metro and headed for the stop closest to the street where the launderette was. Could we find it? Of course not. You would expect a launderette to sort of advertise outside, but not this one, there was no launderette in sight. There were tons of babushkas selling Tide detergent, but none ever heard of a launderette (or they might have thought I had epilepsy trying to ask where a launderette was).
Just before hopping on the metro and giving up we decided to ask just one more person. Yes! She knew of it, but it was so difficult to figure out where it actually was because she kept talking really fast in Russian. In the end we were directed to this condemned-looking office block with not a single thing on it but a Ďreklamaí which we couldnít read.
This was no ordinary launderette, this place was enormous. It was on two floors and it looked like a W.W.II bolt factory or something. We just couldnít figure out how things worked there. No one spoke English and communication was a real challenge. We ended up just giving our clothes away, hoping that were going to washed sometime in the next four days. We were directed to the second floor where all the washing machines actually were. The woman took them and washed them for us (luckily, because there is no way we would ever be able to figure out those laundry machines).
Then the final challenge, payment. Another woman was trying to tell us something obviously very important, but we just did not understand her. In the end we just had to shove a 100 ruble note into her hand and just stand there until she took it and gave us change. Who knows what we paid for, but it cost us 35 rubles.
Now that I have mentioned the metro, a word about it is needed. This thing is amazing., even though it has few stations. The thing is deep, and Iím talking seriously deep, underground. Because St. Petersburg is built over a swamp, they needed to go that deep to get to harder ground. Well, many station are beautifully decorated, especially along line 1. The escalators down to the platforms are generally just one long escalator and not a series of small ones. And they move fast! We would guess around double the speed of their London counterparts. And they donít break down, Iíll never believe London Transport again. We timed how long we were on the escalator at our local metro stop, Ploshchad Lenina. It takes just over 3 minutes, that 180 seconds from top to bottom! And remember, that is going really, really fast, too. From the bottom, the top just looks like some tiny dot of light that is barely discernible. Pretty cool stuff.
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