Home > Cities traveled > Day 76: Goodbye “Piter” and Russia

Day 76: Goodbye “Piter” and Russia

June 29th, 2011

St. Petersburg, fondly referred to as “Piter” by locals, was my last stop in Russia. It didn’t fail to impress me with just how different it is than other Russian cities and yet how still very distinctly Russian it is (though maybe more imperial Russia). At first, I was actually a little put out by how much the city caters to tourists and western/capitalistic trends like coffeeshops, large franchises, and advertising. This frightening version of Tchaikovsky (I think that’s what it was supposed to be) was emanating from the bells on top of St. Peter and Paul’s cathedral.

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However, I learned the true magic of St. Petersburg during the never-ending dusk of its summer white nights when the lights and shadows play with the architecture of the city.

To me, this city is about the arts.

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I saw the opera, Eugene Onegin, written by one of Russia’s most famous writers and set to Tchaikovsky’s music. I also saw the most amazing puppet theater show and was taken backstage to the props shop (thanks to a couchsurfer).

And to fully enjoy the artistic culture in this city, you need people to share it with. I met plenty of locals through couchsurfing and am amazed by the diversity of people I’ve met on my trip.

Dinner with Daria and Egor…
and their furless Donskoy Sphynx cat.

One day in Peter’s loft apartment (sleeping with his cat on the storage shelf).
Oh, and the old elevator in his building. He says seven people fit into this elevator this past new year’s eve. ?? I’m standing in the corner in this picture.

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A theater show and tea with Galina, difficult to describe in a few words but an amazingly free spirit.
I met up with Dunia (from Samara) again also.

Evgeny, whom Dunia and I met for coffee/tea.

See all the St. Petersburg pictures here on Flickr.

From the moment I landed in Russia, it has been about the people that I’ve met, more so than the places and history. Most of these people have wanted to leave their city or their country and travel/live elsewhere because of limitations in career paths or options for family growth and education. I can fully understand that desire as I, myself, emigrated to the United States in search of more opportunities and growth. Where every they end up, I believe that the Russia that they have lived in is a part of who they are now and, hopefully, they will be able to take this heritage with them.

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  1. Jennifer
    July 1st, 2011 at 07:48 | #1

    Image 6 is AWESOME!! You’ve gotten some really cool shots of the light you mentioned. Love it! It also seems like you’ve met some really neat people that will be carried with you.

    • xg
      July 1st, 2011 at 11:36 | #2

      I have to thank Olympus for the pictures. That XZ1 really has a great lens on it and has some fun style options. Did you see the back-dated posts I made for Kazan and Moscow? There is a cool cloud picture in the Kazan set as well.

  2. Brad Amano
    July 1st, 2011 at 16:25 | #3

    Wow! Those are awesome pics, Sandy!! You’ll have one hell of an album of memories out of this. Love the comments on the journey!

  3. July 2nd, 2011 at 05:11 | #4

    How late is it when the sun goes down, or are you so far north that it never goes down?

    • xg
      July 2nd, 2011 at 06:46 | #5

      At this time of year, the sun never really sets. There is a period of dusk at about 1am, then it gets grey, and then the sun starts to rise again at around 3:30am. In SPb, the locals seem to stay up very late, well past 1am, but many also start their days quite late in the morning. Although shops are open at around 8am, many of my couchsurfers didn’t actually start work until 11am or so.

  4. from SD
    July 4th, 2011 at 01:47 | #6

    Day 76
    Oh, I love their life style which goes with the flow.
    Going with the flow sometimes helps us to deal with difficult issues caused by insisting one’s own way.
    Wow! St. Petersburg is a very artistic and impressive city!
    I also noticed that the dinner table and chairs are antique but they match the modern technology of a wall-mounted flat screen TV. Interesting!
    You are wearing a long sleeve shirt… hum… I guess the summer of St. Petersburg is not as hot as here in Southern California.

    • xg
      July 4th, 2011 at 06:28 | #7

      It actually got quite warm and a bit humid during the days (around 24 degrees C) but I usually wear long sleeves anyway. But definitely not as hot as Los Angeles, which is already in the 30’s (70 F), yes?

  5. from SD
    July 4th, 2011 at 08:28 | #8

    Sunday, we had 82 degrees F here in Northern San Diego.
    (x _x)
    Today (Monday) is the 4th of July! It will be 86 degrees F in LA.
    It’s not bad~.
    It was 118 degrees F in Phoenix, AZ two days ago. That is HOT!

  6. Yuki
    July 6th, 2011 at 10:30 | #9

    Bells sounds amazing! I loved it! The sounds of orchestra warming up took me to the hall instantly – thank you! And I have to take a ride with the old elevator…

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