Saint Petersburg, Russia (population 5 million)
Trip Start Jun 04, 2014
5Trip End Jul 24, 2014
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Roughly 8 hours on a night train, my first in Russia, and I arrive in what I think is St. Petersburg, but all of the signs are telling the name of the train station with no indication of the city, so for a few minutes I think I’ve stopped short, and I’m going to have to experience the dreaded purchasing of tickets from the train ticket lady sooner than I had planned and without preparation. This is an event that requires some research research so that you know beforehand your preferred times, class of seat, and preferably a train number
*Traveling by train in Russia
Luckily, this was not the case, as I finally see a Metro sign and I’m in the right place and headed into the famous former capital of Russia. A city built by Tsar Peter, following his victory over the Swedes who had controlled the region, and named in honor of the Saint he was named after. Many attribute the defeat of the Swedes the key event to propelling Russia into a respected world power, and no longer a series of regional kingdoms in the eastern hinterlands. This was the aim of Tsar Peter, who had traveled to the kingdoms of Europe as a young ruler to see the mechanisms behind building and maintaining an empire. Also, to create a Russian city that would rival Amsterdam, London, and Paris.
*War between Russia and Sweden
*Significance of Peter’s travels through Europe
As soon as I emerge from the subway, I am amazed
St. Petersburg has a legacy even in name; changed to Petrograd during WWII as to not show any German legacy, then to Leningrad following the Communist Revolution, then back to St. Petersburg in 1991 following a vote by the citizenry. Whereas Moscow gives a sense of strength and grandeur, St. Petersburg is strength and elegance. The Russian nobility had a sense of style and a compulsion to demonstrate its wealth
St. Petersburg today is the “tourist spot” in Russia. Everyone goes to Moscow, but then complains about it, and then tells of how St. Petersburg is such a nicer visit. I don’t like to agree with most of the mainstream, but I’m with them on this one. Each night in the summer, the bridges around town are raised to let waterway traffic in and out of the city, which makes for a good public gathering. The streets are loaded with street performers, galleries, cafes, and pedestrian traffic, much like you’d imagine in Paris or Rome. Of course, all this is depending on the weather of the day, which can change immediately and drastically. But, overall, St. Petersburg is a must visit. The museums, architecture, canals, cathedrals, and people make this one of the most pleasant cities I’ve ever visited.