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Sun in St. Pete, sunny St. Pete...

May 2004

    It's been a long time since not only my last story about St. Petersburg, but also my last visit there. For many months I've been thinking about a trip there. After a few visits to this city one develops an addiction of sorts... And, therefore, too long a period of abstinence results in a strong desire to come to St. Petersburg again. But I'm lazy - and all these wishes remained just wishes for a long time. Fortunately, one day in this April of 2004 I was told "We are going to St. Pete on May holidays!" and given a ticket. After that, being lazy could not help anymore, and I stopped it, and we went to St. Pete, and we loved it as always, and here are the new pictures.

Youth of St. Pete enjoys the sun near Kazan Cathedral

    We had a very, very good luck. By no means St.Petersburg is the most sunny place on Earth. I'd rather say that it's a place usually full of mists, overcast sky, and drizzles. But these four days of early May 2004 were fabulous, sunny and bright. The real spring had not come to St. Pete yet, and there were no leaves, no flowers - but almost summer warmth and sunshine nonetheless. Everyone around was enjoying the weather. So - let us look at the city full of first real sunshine of the year, the city waking up after a long winter.

As always in my stories here, you can zoom in on any picture. Just click on an image and a larger and better quality photo will open. Many of the photos are worth looking at in postcard size - in this story more than ever.

All the sightseeing fleet... At Neva at the the dusk Colors of some boats may look strange

Graphics of St. Pete bridges
   The city now has traffic jams not only on its old streets once designed for a very different transportation. The rivers and channels are now so much packed with vessels of all sorts taking tourists for a boat trips that the traffic on water also gets very heavy. Still, my old recommendations remain valid: the best way to look at the city is to look at it from the water. Or, if you for some reason prefer walking, do it along the endless embankments and use the bridges as often as possible.

Neva embankment in the evening twilight Blue and cold fast running water Last rays of sun on St. Isaac Cathedral

   Since these pages are not a travel guide, I won't make too much comments and explanations - just enjoy the views of the water, the views from the water.

Bridges are great to show perspective Straight lines of channels A very St. Petersburgish view

St. Petersburg is a large sea cargo port - and it shows
   On a holiday, even busy cranes look like an artist's installation for visitors, adding a special marine touch to the cityscape. Actually, any vertical accents are welcome when you look at St. Petersburg built on an absolutely flat former marshes. The city has several landmarks that are traditional symbols of it - and they all are tall and vertical. The most famous, perhaps, is St. Peter and Paul fortress with a golden spire of its cathedral. You saw it already at the title of the page, but below are a few more pictures of this tall miracle, taken at different times, different angles, under different light. But always enchanting...

St. Peter and Paul Fortress St. Peter and Paul Fortress St. Peter and Paul Fortress St. Peter and Paul Fortress St. Peter and Paul Fortress

   Do not forget to click on these photos - St. Peter and Paul cathedral is definitely worth looking at on a larger picture.

Classical view: Winter Palace with St. Isaac's dome in the background The best of St. Petersburg in one shot Renovated facades look great

   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...

Riders on Dvortsovaya Square Bicycle race is spectacular Larger wheels for him, smaller wheels for her

At the inline skate rentals
   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.

A piece of architectural art A tourist attraction with 1 h.p. engine A howitzer made in pre-WWII times
   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.

Mass toilets of XXI century
   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.

How sea gulls see St. Peter and Paul fortress Symbol of October revolution of 1917 looks like a toy from the skies St. Isaac Cathedral looks impressiv at any angle, even from above

MI-8 helicopter takes on an air tour everyone who wants to enjoy aerial views of St. Pete
   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.

One cannot imagine St. Petersbur without stone lions of different sorts Bridges, more bridges These fairy tale beasts have seen fabuous hordes of tourists from all over the world

   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.

Restaurant at the sea shore
   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.

Fun in the sun at the waterfront Remnants of the times of fear Navy ships in Kronshtadt

Cathedral in Kronshtadt
Dome of the cathedral decorated with navy symbols
   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.

A fountain near Winter Palace Golden, white, and blue, noble colors Sunshine Church of Savior-on-Blood Just a decoration, but still so beautiful

   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.

Apartment block of modern St. Petersburg Fishing with guaranteed result

   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 - asebrant@online.ru

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