Renovated and repainted palaces remind a visitor that a year ago the city celebrated its 300th anniversary, and had some some face lifting done for this occasion. In the low evening sun, colorful buildings look magical and majestic...
Dwellers of St. Pete, the younger ones in particular, use these first sunny days for all sorts of rides. In terms of bike usage, the city is closer to European standards than any other place in Russia. Inline skates are also fantastically popular, and that makes the crowd in the parks and on the streets even more lively.
Live history of different centuries is abundant in the city and has many faces. Walking through the city one can enjoy wonderful samples of architectural "modern" style, or have a ride in a very realistic replica of a historical wagon, or inspect at close range the cannons of World War II.
Inventions of XXI century sometimes are also impressive and worth a close look. The bus shown in the photo on the right is not supposed to carry any passengers. It actually carries the toilets - and these mobile bathrooms are plentiful around the city. A very industrial solution, a high-tech replacement for individual cabins... And when you enter this vehicle, something in its design and materials tells you that it is a product of conversion of military technologies. Well, obviously tools of mass defecation are much better than those of mass destruction.
This year, for the first time ever in the long history of my visits to St. Petersburg, I could enjoy views of the city which normally only lucky gulls can see. On a small lawn behind St. Peter and Paul fortress one can jump on a Mi-8 helicopter and have a 15-minutes tour of the downtown St. Petersburg - view from above. That's a neat idea, to offer this attraction to us, lazy tourists. Looking at the familiar places and objects at the new angle is always exciting.
But let's get back onto earth - or, rather, water - and see a bit more bridges. The details one cannot see from the air are worth a close look.
In early May my favorites places in the environs of the city are either closed for public or just not very interesting. Great parks are worth visiting when there is some foliage. Fountains are worth looking at when they operate. So it makes perfect sense to go in the other direction from St. Petersburg, towards the border with Finland. There one can have simple pleasures of a sea resort in low season: beer pubs with fast service, views of empty water, sun that will not bite you even if you forgot protection lotion.
If you took a Seaside Highway (Primorskoe Shosse), on the way back to the city from a relaxing beer drinking party at the waterfront, you may take a turn and drive to Kronshtatd. The city, located on an island in the Gulf of Finland, until recently was closed to visitors. Now it's still an important navy base, but fortunately with secrecy maintained only where necessary. The way to Kronshtadt along an infamous huge dam is also an interesting experience... No comments here - debates whether it's a blessing of flood protection or a total ecological disaster have been running for years and are not finished yet. Anyway, it looks horrible, and weird, and ugly - unlike any well-designed object. Something must be deeply wrong about it. Anyway - if you are interested, please check the links Google finds for you.
But the Kronshtadt itself definitely is worth visiting. Just look at the photo of its cathedral on the left.
Well, let's get back to the sunny cityscapes of St. Petersburg. Just a few more views of a city where every vertical line of a spire, a bell-tower or even a fountain makes difference.
That's almost it. But before saying "see you next time" let me show a few more photos. Two of them are a neat confirmation of the fact that St. Pete is getting richer. The building on the left photo below sits in the middle of a nice city park - and is a luxury apartment block. On the other end of lake it's facing a wonderful fish restaurant is located. There one can first fish out the sturgeon and then see it being grilled.
But the St. Pete which I love is not in the expensive eating places or pompous buildings. It sits on the banks of Neva, it hugs the loved one, it's colored by the strange light of low almost midnight sun...
...See you soon again at these pages - with a new story which perhaps will tell not about Moscow, but rather about some new location in Russia. Time to show you something new, my dear readers. A story of a world famous Siberian lake coming soon ;-)
Andrey - firstname.lastname@example.org