St. Petersburg - Day 2

Today, we saw a little more of St. Petersburg on our way to Peterhof palace.  I know you can’t really make a judgment about a place after spending only two days, but St. Petersburg really seems to be a developing city that has a long way to go.  The traffic is brutal, the rich seem to have everything while the majority has very little.  People didn’t seem very happy here.  Not that they were rude or unfriendly, but they just seemed to be existing more than living.  That’s a sweeping generalization, I’m sure, but that was the vibe we got.  It was a scene full of contrasts, huge, grand palaces next to crumbling slums, golden cathedrals with ugly factories across the street. Anyway, we are really glad we came, and would like to come back in 15 or 20 years to see how the city has developed.

We drove about 30 km out of the city to get to the palace.  Once there, we had to stay with the group, which we weren’t expecting.  The palace is based on Versailles and the grounds were so massive, we were only able to cover a little bit of them...

It was cool to see the fountains, but following a group the whole time was a drag.  When the tour was over, we took a hydrofoil back to the city.  It was so weird coming to Russia.  Neil and I both thought that the image we grew up with of Russia was just a lot of U.S. propaganda, and we’re sure some of it was, but it was really surprising to see how different it is from everywhere else we’ve ever been, even now.  The guides we had both days talked about life under the communist party and it is easy to imagine when you see the remnants of it everywhere.  St. Petersburg really felt, to us, like a city that has always been trying to prove its grandeur in its architecture and palaces while the people struggle to just get by.  Like the facade is very beautiful, but underneath, there is a harshness and a sadness.

© Knstrong 2013