When I lived in Barcelona I stumbled across a bargain flight to St Petersburg, it just so happened to be over a four day holiday in early December. By the time I had waited to change flights (there and back), I had about 48 hours to explore the city. This was obviously going to be an impossible task, especially as I was going in winter. The city is located at latitude of 57⁰N, so that meant long nights and very little light in the day time; in fact it was more like dusk. Finally, it was cold and windy it got down to something like -5 degrees plus wind-chill, so please wrap up if you travel in winter.
Brief History of St Petersburg
The city itself is one of the youngest in the world, founded during the Great Northern War 1703; it became the Russian capital in 1712. Since then the city has played a major role in Russian history, politics and economic development. There are more palaces than you can shake a stick at; many are ornate and ostentatious homages to Russia’s imperial past. St Petersburg also has over one hundred museums covering just about every angle of Russian history you care to mention. For me, time was of the essence so I had to make a choice, which was to explore the terrible suffering of the population and destruction of the city that was the result of the 900 day siege inflicted by the Nazis. The barbarity endured by Eastern Europe and Russia in WW2 once again becoming crystallized and further entrenched in my mind.
St Petersburg is constructed on the former delta of the river Neva, and such the city is bisected and traversed by canals and as such, you cannot really explore the city without crossing one of its hundreds of bridges, which are works of art and engineering prowess in themselves. You can bet that I was walking around from one monument, landmark, tomb, palace, square, or cemetery to another that I had fun getting lost and warming up in the occasional hostelry. I wanted to take a boat trip as this would have best of the best ways to actually see everything, in the limited time available, but the water of course was not cooperating, being semi-frozen.
The city is considered the “unofficial” capital and is certainly Russia’s second city and “Eye on the West”. It is most certainly seen as the Russian cultural capital and with a strong scientific and artistic heritage it is not hard to see why. That’s it, I wanted more time when I go back I am going to start at St Petersburg and travel to Volgograd and further explore this huge country.