Monday, 9 July 2012

St Petersburg

Having last written a post about Peter the Great, It is perhaps timely to mention the city he founded – St Petersburg (known during the Soviet years as Leningrad). 

The fast train service between Moscow and St P. covers the 800 kilometres in 4 hours 30 minutes. This includes several stops. The speed is displayed in the carriage and reaches 220kph at times. At this speed it is such a smooth ride that Wendy had thought we were doing about 120.

While it is a far more entertaining way to travel than by aircraft, there really isn’t all that much to see along the way. Flat terrain, forests, some fields, a few lakes and the occasional rundown village or town. After the first half hour, a soporific sameness.

To tell the truth, I’m not really in the mood to write much today and what is there to say? Everyone who has been to St Petersburg will tell you how drop dead beautiful it is and you can read its history and economy on Wikipedia if you have a mind to.

I think every tourist takes this same picture. It's the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood - a reference to it having been built on the spot where Tsar Alexander III was assasinated in 1881.
One thing though, Wendy’s work took her into the outer suburbs of St P. and I came along for a look. Not so nice. The same bleak apartment towers I have seen on the fringes of many European cities. 

Meanwhile, back in the Disneyworld of the historic centre, the characters dress the part.

Peter the Great statue. Period costumes - adding atmosphere or simply banal (or just me getting older and cynical)?
And oh yes - they don’t park cars on the footpath! You have no idea the difference this makes (though if you live in Moscow, perhaps you do). Unlike Tverskaya Used Car Ulitsa in Moscow (actually a used car yard would be better, at least the cars would be clean), the main boulevard, Nevskiy Prospect (Avenue) is a delight to stroll along. 

Nevskiy Prospect. Good car parking space going to waste.
Some places are just so darned lovely, even the most cynical of folks can't help but be impressed.

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