here’s a rundown of what else i’ve been up over the last week here in st petersburg:
walking down the street that natasha’s house is on, we all of a sudden spotted this dope castle-looking thing way down the street. we walked over there and it turned out to be a cathedral called Smolny. this is yet another buildng designed by rostrelli. unfortunately, the bottom half of the cathedral was under reconstruction, but here’s a photo of the top of it.
st petersburg just has a never ending supply of fancy buildings. here’s anther random building we saw.. i dont even know if it is an important building or not!
as i mentioned before, russians are really big on parks and there are tons of different parks all over the city. the parks are constantly filled w/ families taking strolls, kids playing, babushkas hanging out on benches. one of the best parks here is the Summer Gardens. when peter the great founded this city, he built himself a little cabin on this spot and the gardens surrounding the cabin eventually became a public park. in the center of the park is a large statue of a famous russian author, and radiating from it are sandy trails that crisscross their way through the park. after the park, we went by the Mars field where there is an eternal flame burning in memory of soldiers who have died.
along the river there are several different pairs of sphinxes around the city. each pair has a different style to them. one of the pairs that i found particularly cool looking was this one pair where their faces where half normal and half skulls. realy eerie.. even in broad daylight.
the most horrible event in this city’s history was the seige of leningrad during WWII. for almost 3 whole years, the germans had the city surrounded and there was virtually no way to bring supplies and/or food into the city. it was an insane time, and people were literally dropping dead in the streets from hunger. rations given to people became less and less throughout the blockade, until one point where each person was only given a small piece of bread per day. this was a tiny piece of bread weighing only 125 grams… and a large part of it was made from sawdust instead of flour. people were so desperate that they would cook and eat the leather in their belts. they would scrape off the glue behind their wallpaper and eat it. it’s absolutely insane for me to think that such a thing could go on for such a long time, and even crazier for me to think that my dad was there and lived through it as a child. there’s a museum showing the history of the blockade and we went to go see it. lots of really hardcore stuff in there including photos from the time, memorabilia, and other stuff.
a popular activity for tourists to do here is to take a tour of the many canals here. you hop on a boat and it takes you around the city for about an hour while pointing out some of the famous sites. it’s a pretty neat way of seeing the city and it’s cool to look up at the sites from below. the water level in the canals was particularly high the day we took the tour, and each time we passed under a bridge, everyone would duck down cause they were worried about smacking their head!
st.petersburg’s smallest toursit attraction
there’s this tiny statue of a little bird that you can see if you look over the edge of one of the canals. people try to drop coins on its head.
natasha gave us tickets to the ballet as a gift. they were tickets to go see Swan Lake at the mariinsky theater, the most famous theater in st petersburg. the theater is beautiful from both the outside and inside, and part of the appeal of seeing the ballet here is just the building itself. the ballet was really cool, and it was cool to do a cultural activity while being here. we havent really seen that many cultural performances on our trip yet. during the show, lots of people would keep taking flash photos of the ballet, even though this was totally against the rules, and other people would then hiss and yell at them. that didnt seem to stop anyone though.
the bridges again
one night we went out to go see the bridges be raised again. this time, we went to the most impressive bridge, the palace bridge which is right in front of the hermitage. watching this bridge be raised is really popular, and soon there was a huge crowd that had gathered w/ everyone waiting in anticipation. finally the bridge went up and everyone started taking photos like crazy. such a spectacular sight! after the bridge went up, we walked to some of the other bridges, and then walked *hella* far to get back home. we’ve done soooo much walking while we’ve been here. probably more walking that we’ve done almost anywhere else. i feel like we practically spend all of our free time wandering about, and this is quite a large city!
canals on our way home
st petersburg is supposed to have lots of really fun and diverse nightlife. it has tons of nightclubs and has a very vibrant music scene. we werent able to go out anywhere last wekeend since we were waking up early each morning, but this weekend we decided to check out a concert that we had seen advertised all over the city. there’s this event called stereleto (means stereo summer in russian) here, that has been having concerts here every weekend featuring electronic groups like gus gus, chicks on speed, etc. this weekend the featured band was telepopmusik. the name of the band sounded familiar, although i didnt think i had ever heard of their stuff before.
we headed out to the show which was on an island rather far from natasha’s house. we finally got there around 12:30. there were several other bands playing too. they had an outdoor stage set up and an indoor area as well. eventually telepopmusik went on and they were really really good. they have a female singer who sings over their mellow tracks and a guy singing on their more upbeat stuff. the music was great and the crowd seemed to be really into it. the singer said this was one of her favorite concerts this summer! it turned out that i actually *had* heard one of their songs before, i just didnt know it was them. it’s actually played back home in some ?car? commercial where its a chick singing quietly saying “another day… just breathe.. another day.. just believe”. click here for video. one weird thing about the show is that they played their set, and for their encore, they played two of the songs that they had already played.. again! and then, for their second encore, they once again played their hit single making it *3* times they played that song. of course, they changed it up each time and played it differently, but it was still funny. watchig the concert was so cool though. really great music, and all of this set outdoors in a foresty area with the sky slowly getting lighter and lighter beacsue of the white nights. such a perfect background for the show!
after the show, we tried out another russian favorite pasttime: being stuck on the wrong side of town! during the night, all the bridges are raised, and if you happen to be on the wrong side, there’s virtually no way of you getting back until they come back down. the only way would be to take a taxi ride in this huge loop around the whole perimiter of the city, but this would cost like 40 bucks. so we walked as far as we could on foot. eventually, once the bridges had gone down, we found an unofficial taxi and got a ride home.. at 5:30am!
after around 10 days here in st petersburg, it was time to leave. we had gotten quite used to staying over at natasha’s house, and it was sad to say goodbye.
natasha, me, and vitalia