.St. Petersburg

So, dear audience, here is Anch, alive and well after her epic trip. Actually, not so well and not so alive, but if we close eyes to certain details, I’m fine. I’m going back and trains inspire me to write so I’m in the ideal condition to put up a blog post.

Being a tourist is like putting on brightly-colored glasses: you perceive everything around you through these lenses, and it creates a deviated vision of the place. This time, luckily, I was able to take those glasses off and become a usual Petersburg inhabitant for a dozen of days. And the difference is enormous.

I’ve been to Saint Petersburg a few times before, but I was a typical tourist or too young to perceive it as a city and not a couple of museums. Now, everything has changed. The trip has started on train, and the only thing worth noticing was writing highly psychedelic haiku and communicating with my companion, Mary, through notes on iPhone simply writing them and showing to each other. Ah, I haven’t told you the most interesting point of it all: I was there with my friend, and we’re living at/ visiting/ etc. _her_ relatives, so I was between totally unknown people. A nice experience, to be honest. Almost like hitchhiking.

Anyhow, we spent days on walking and nights on watching movies. An ideal form of vacation, as to me. Of course, walking = getting to know Petersburg a lot better. And there were a few things I didn’t notice the previous times. The first thing that made me think a lot was the city itself and people. Actually, I’m living in one of the biggest, if not the biggest, European cities with officially 13 million and unofficially about 20 million of inhabitants. Moscow’s a typical megapolis with all it’s bad sides like air pollution, eternal grey skies, too much people, the fact that it doesn’t get dark at night or the feeling of being trapped in a concrete cage. And of course it all left a rather big influence on me. I stepped down from the train…and stood still for a second just blinded by the light – the usual sunshine in a not-so-polluted atmosphere. (Living in twilight, meh.) And you can see the stars on the sky at night! Then – people. They’re nicer, more open and somewhat more generous. Around them I felt like an aboriginal who came to a civilized country: in Saint Petersburg you feel the urge to talk in a more clearer way, to forget about swearwords, to keep your back straight and behave differently.There’s culture floating in the air.

Another impression: their metro. It’s one of the deepest metros in the world. And it just feels like it: because of the pressure and the air you automatically start to yawn and breathe heavily. Or fall alseep, like I do. Ok, count it as the second, after my sight that I had to retrieve for a pair of days, of many things health-related that happened to me there. But besides of that their metro is beautiful and easier to find a necessary way than the Moscow one. And some station-to-station passes kept reminding me of a famous Joy Division photo by Anton Corbijn, but unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to take a similar shot because of people. What about the quantity of people, the difference was notable only on the first day, later everything suddenly became crowded by foreign tourists: sometimes I felt like I was the only Russian around.

The city’s extremely beautiful, and it would be even more beautiful if there weren’t all these repairing works on every cathedral/museum/old building. We visited several typical sightseeings,
but most of the time we were just wandering on the streets or sitting in the planetarium to complete my inner nerd needs. But one of the places I just couldn’t forget to visit. I’m talking about the Piskaryovskoe graveyard. It’s a well-known fact that Petersburg (in those times Leningrad) didn’t fit in Hitler’s plan of conquering Russia, so the city has passed through a true hell – a 900 days blockade. More than 1 million of innocent people died there. And most of them found their final refugee in that graveyard. How do you feel when you walk upon the ground that’s actually a cover for grave of almost 600 000 persons? That’s what I mean. Actually, the whole city was a place of extermination. Everything reminds of the wounds that won’t heal, from the messages in people’s eyes to a few writings on the wall that say“People! During the bombardment this side of streets is extremely dangerous!”. You keep hearing the ticking of a metronome inside your head when you see it.

Alright, I should stop before  I go remembering such atrocious things as the Auschwitz gate that I saw when I was in Poland – and the sight of them was enough. Maybe someday I’ll feel like sharing these memories

Anyhow, the time was spent in an amazing way, and I don’t regret any second. Also, we went to Amanda Palmer & Jason Webley’s concert. They’re both incredibly talented, and when they’re together, everything explodes. (By the way, I’ll be seeing them tomorrow and maybe on 9th *winkwink*) Jason is awesome: when a musician manages to turn on the audience who barely knows him and maybe a couple of people knows his music good, it’s a sign 🙂 And Amanda…oh. Amanda. She’s magical. And now I have my musical wish completed: she played “Mrs. O”. And we got autographs and photos. And…aah.

Results: I’ve understood that I’m hysterically afraid of toasters, I have an allergy to the sound of a tram passing outside the window, I have seen the biggest raspberry EVER, I’ve seen a real astronomer, not an astronomy teacher, but a scientist *inner nerd isn’t going to calm down*, I’ve seen the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (it’s amazingly beautiful, you folks), understood that I don’t like speed above 200 km/h and that I won’t drink earl grey tea at least until Christmas and many, many more.

Photos will be up later, when I stop being a lazy kitten and go to print them.


~ by Anna on August 8, 2009.

One Response to “.St. Petersburg”

  1. Impressiv blog entry! Kudos!

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