I have some questions for a short novel I'm writing. The time is early April 1896 (it is around Easter). The story starts in St Petersburg, but soon moves from there. Bradshaw's Guide from 1913 is of great help, but 1896-1913 was a period of great development for Russia so I don't want to take it for granted.
1. How compartmentalised was St Petersburg? That is if you walked from the Grand Hotel Europe towards a house in a very upscale area (I deliberately left the exact location vague), would you be confronted with the real poverty in the city? Or is it feasible that you'd only walk upper and middle-class areas? Either option is fine.
2. I remember there being a bridge in St Petersburg with a church on one end. As I recall the coachmen prided themselves in being able to stand and make the sign of the cross as they drove past the church. But embarrassingly enough I can't remember the name of the bridge or the church.
3. The main character needs to go from St Petersburg to Odessa. Would he need to change trains? Or would it be a direct train that simply stopped for a while at various stations? Likewise is the train schedule significantly different from the one in 1913?
4. What exactly would a first class railway carriage be like in 1896? Would there be a corridor to move between compartments, or would they have doors opening up to the outside? Also how many people could there be in such a first class compartment?
5. Would there be meals served on the train? Or would travellers seek out restaurants in the railway stations? How "continental" (or otherwise) would the food be?
6. Are there any online images of the relevant (as in the stations where trains from the other city would arrive) railway station in Odessa and Moscow? I'm not quite sure if it'd be the same ones referred to in the 1913 Bradshaw so any notes on this would be greatly appreciated.
7. If you were to stay in a high-end hotel in Odessa in 1896, which one would it be? Are there any that would have a view of a large church or cathedral?
8. Would it be justifiable to describe the weather when he gets to Odessa as being dreary rain or snow and light slush?
9. How officious and troublesome would Russian officials be to a foreign traveller? Would he at any point need to show any papers? I know the 19th Century was different, but I also know Russia was accused of being somewhat dictatorial.
Any answers and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!