Past Travels - St Petersburg.

Trawling through the pictures I have stored on my computer at the moment I realised that I've traveled to quite a few places and have some photos that I'd love to share. I also discovered a new feature (well new to me) on my computer that allows me to make collages of my photos. So on that note, a new feature of this blog will be a post on some of my past travels. This is not meant to be an extensive travel log, nor necessarily a guide to these towns and place. It is more a place for me to remember and show my photos.

So without any further ramblings I begin with St Peterburg and the trans-siberian.

Trip: St Petersburg - Beijing (trans-siberian)

When: June 2005

St Petersburg deserves to be on everyone's list of places to visit. It looks like Europe with old Renaissance buildings and wide cobbled streets, but the atmosphere is decidedly Russian. St Petersburg was the former imperial city of the Russian Tsars and although when I visited, the city was a little run-down - chicken wire holding up building walls in some places and uniform Soviet-era cars - the grandeur of the buildings was still quite breath-taking.

The highlight for me was definitely the Hermitage. This enormous art museum has one of the biggest art collections in the world. The Romanovs' amassed a staggering amount of art work and there is now a rotating collection of the 3 million pieces (!) that form part of the collection. As a lover of art and old buildings I spent 2 days wandering the halls and soaking it all in. It is impossible to see it all - the Western European Art alone is housed in 120 rooms. If you want a sneak preview of the rooms, Alexander Sokurov's 2002 film Russian Ark is set in the museum.

The fountains at the Summer Palace (Crimea) and the raising of the bridges are also highlights. The Crimea is a little like Versaille, only there is this enormous fountain leading down to the river. You can see how big it is from some of my photos. This fountain is completely run using hydro power - no electricity at all. The raising of the bridges is a phenomenon all to itself. St Petersburg is built on some fairly low lying islands. In winter the rivers freeze, but in summer the waterways are still used by thousands of commercial boats. In order to allow the boats to pass freely between 1am-3am all the bridges in St Petersburg are raised. This has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. In June the sun doesn't ever really set in St Petersburg and against a dusky sky the bridges and river take on an almost ethereal appearance. As soon as the bridges are up literally hundreds of boats fill the riverway passing from the great Russian interior out into the sea.

Next stop was Moscow and the trans-siberian...

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