Sunday, 10 July 2011
St Petersburg–The Land of the White Night
What a city! What architecture and a taste of Russia’s Rich and Opulent past. Every street lined with huge Palaces and imposing buildings. Tree lined streets criss-crossed by several canals and rivers – a hint of Venice on many corners. There are hundreds of draw bridges allowing bigger boats into the city and these are all raised simultaneously in the middle of the White Nights. A tradition which brings locals down to the waters edge apparently.
THE LAND OF THE WHITE NIGHTS ?? In June and July each year it does not get really dark and this brings many tourists to the area at this time of year. It is strange to be looking out at 3 a.m. and seeing everything quite clearly Not quite the land of the midnight sun but similar.
We toured around the city in a coach and, because the traffic is very heavy there were ample photo opportunities which I will show you later. The contrast between the crumbling grey Soviet buildings around the Port
and the beautiful French and Italian inspired buildings in the centre was difficult to understand.
Shopping Malls have been built within the old buildings and we saw no modern shops or houses in the city centre.Beautiful clothes and fashion items are freely available but very expensive and everywhere we turned we were confronted by the extremes of rich and poor.
A battered old Lada car could be parked to the latest Lexus or Mercedes.Immaculately turned out ladies in their designer gear and men in dark suits jostled on the pavements with the average Joe.
The beautiful parks and squares were totally litter free and I did not see any graffiti – the first time on this trip.
Today was a Monday and many of the Museums and Churches were closed ; a bonus for us as the town was far less crowded , in fact it was very easy to walk around and nowhere near so hot as the previous day.
We were warned by all the guides on our excursions about Pickpockets and to be vigilant. This is common place all over the world now and Mike still keeps his money in his back pocket. Not anymore he won't! He lost the lot – without even knowing it had gone. We had changed a few dollars into Roubles so that we could down a Vodka in Russia, as you do and he had given that to me.
Note – no tonic just 7UP.
All his Dollars and Euros were in his back pocket and then ………………. they were gone! Luckily, his credit card was in an inside pocket and I had the passports in my bag.
BE WARNED – IT CAN AND DOES HAPPEN TO YOU!
The photos will show you more of the city than I can write about but it is worth more than one visit that is for sure.
Just a selection of fabulous buildings everywhere -
Church on spilled blood, St. Isaacs Square.
Back on the ship, starving as we had not had lunch, we called room service and tucked into a steak sandwich and a chocolate cake. Guess who had which?
The Theatre show was good – a singer with a very good voice who sang lots of 60’s numbers. He was once part of the group who sang Winchester Cathedral – The New Vaudeville Band.