Friday, June 25, 2010

The City of White Nights

Saint Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.

It's Paris with canals, Budapest with flair and Venice without Italians. It has Baroque-gilded palaces like the Winter Palace, Soviet-style block buildings and the invariable Neva River running through.

As you can see, I'm in love. In love with a city where the sun doesn't set for a few long days in June called White Nights. The city is alive with special theatre events, boat trips and strolling the ever-present canals that criss cross the city.

Highlights so far have been:

The Hermitage Museum - despite the hour and a half wait and elbowing your way through some of the more popular exhibits - there is a spectacular array of artwork from Egyptian mummies, Matisse's "La Dance", Catherine the Great's Throne Room and my favorite of the day: Rodin's "Eternal Spring".
Boat trip on the Neva at midnight. Every night the main bridges on the Neva River rise to allow the passage of ships, but, at the perpetual dusk of White Nights the whole city comes alive. I took a boat trip that left the dock at 12.30am to cruise the canals and see the raising of the bridges with the dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral in the background. It was truly spectacular.

Finally, I saw "Anna Karenina" the ballet in the wonderful Mariinsky Theatre. It was incredibly well done and a special celebration night where the muse of the composer was in attendance. And, I didn't cry at the end...a very good night indeed.

Except today, it is pissing rain. No, not pissing, sleeting rain. So, I get a day off from pounding the pavement in search of another Lenin statue and get to blog to my heart's content.

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