Vyborg is 130 km to the North of St. Petersburg, and only 30 or so km from the Finnish border. For a long time it was a Finnish/Swedish town, and it has a definite Scandinavian feel to it.
What attracted me there was the friendliness of two of its citizens, Tana and Mikhail. Tana was my first Russian tutor at LingQ. She sent me CDs in the early days, and really encouraged me in my Russian learning.
I took the Electrichka from the Finlandski station in St. Pete. Three and half hours on hard wooden seats. I occasionally stood up, ostensibly to let elderly passengers sit down, but really to give my back a rest. One of these kind elderly passengers for whom I stood up, as she was leaving a few stations before me, made a point of reminding me not to forget my bag when I got off.
The Vyborg tour was splendid. I was on my own the first afternoon as MiKhail and Tana had to work. I wandered around, and even found a little cafe where I had a delicious soup while watching Russian comic videos on the high definition TV.
That evening we had a lovely meal including a little vodka, some bliny with salmon roe, herring, and borscht if I remember correctly. This was followed by a walk in the midnight sun around the waterfront. (Water everywhere in this town).
The next morning we had a coffee in a charming coffee shop, visited a book store where I was given the interesting book I am reading (in Russian) , and then we toured the highlights of the town. These included a historic castle and tower where we saw local craftsment using ancient tools to fashion nails for the castle and other amusements.
We also toured the famous English garden called Mon Repos. We came across a wedding party there.
We finished our day with a lovely lunch of fish at the beach. Perhaps the most enjoyable of all was the constant conversation in Russian about all manner of subjects, in a constant feeling of friendliness and well-being, quite something for people that I was meeting for the first time.
On our way to the station we stopped an enormous supermarket. The consumer revolution has arrived in Vyborg. 32 cash register!!
I got on the Elektrichka again around 5 in the evening and returned to St. Petersburg, having been treated like a long lost relative by Tana and Mikhail. I look forward to reciprocating in Vancouver.